By Sarah Armstrong
Originally appeared in PHC's Herald 12/4
Patrick Henry College
Alyssa Munday and boyfriend Caleb Loomis during an IJM presentation
Alyssa Mundy looked out the window of the van driving around the “red light” district of Pampanga, Philippines, witnessing the culmination of generations of cultural decay and depravity in that country. Mundy had been a member of the International Justice Mission (IJM) Club since her freshman year of college, but this was her first glimpse of sex trafficking and human exploitation in progress, up close and in person. She watched as foreign men and provocatively clad girls walked around in such numbers that cars could not even drive down the streets at night. This was the center of Pampanga’s sex tourism, an industry that attracts over a million foreigners every year.
Mundy, a senior in the International Politics and Policy (IPP) track, went with a group of pastors and six college students from IJM’s National Student Leadership team on a nine-day trip to the Philippines from November 2-10. The team moved back and forth between two field offices in Manila and Pampanga that focus particularly on sex trafficking. This was a “vision trip” to see if it would be possible for IJM to host future trips at their different field locations.
Mundy grew up in Pleasant Hill, Calif., with her parents and three younger brothers. She was homeschooled all the way through. Mundy first heard about IJM in middle school when a speaker came to her church. Later, in junior high, several of her friends gave speeches about sex trafficking in the United States and abroad which reawakened her passion for advocating for human rights. When she came to PHC, Mundy knew she wanted eventually to do work involving human rights and immediately signed up with the IJM Club at the freshmen activities fair.
Mundy had all her plans laid out perfectly. “I was going to do moot court and model UN and go to law school. I wanted to go to Regent’s human rights law program,” she said. It only took an instant for everything to change. In a moot court tournament, she and her partner were eliminated on a ballot fluke, and all her well-laid plans crumbled. “Gone was the qualifying for nationals, gone was the competing in nationals, gone was the slot to the model UN team … Gone was everything I had laid out.”
God had other, better plans for her, although she could not see it at first. So Mundy prayed, “God, what am I supposed to do?” While she waited for an answer, she got more involved in the IJM club. Over the summer, instead of working as a counselor for team camps like she wanted, she worked her Plan-B job in the Admissions Office which gave her extra time that she used to help plan a benefit concert for IJM. Through the concert, she met Jaclyn Lesch and Greg Darley, the heads of college mobilization for IJM and became involved in the National Student Leadership team. God had answered her prayers and set her on a new course — a course that would take her all the way across the world to the Philippines.
The nine days Mundy spent in the Philippines were split between two cities and two different “types” of days. Some days were spent in meetings and briefings. The others were spent in aftercare facilities where the team members met and bonded with girls rescued from the sex tourism industry. The girls were typically minors between 12 and 19. In Manila’s aftercare facility there were 25 girls, in Pampanga there were 80.
After witnessing the “red light” district, Mundy realized the problem in the Philippines was a generational and cultural issue. “It was extremely overwhelming,” Mundy said. According to Mundy, sex tourism has gone on so long in the Philippines that most in the community do not consider working in establishments or human trafficking as “wrong.” The only problem is the age of the girls — not the industry.
“But there is a ray of hope,” Mundy said. Because foreigners fuel human trafficking in the Pampanga and Manila, ending sex tourism ends sex trafficking. “There is no reason a foreigner should ever go there. There’s nothing there but [sex tourism],” Mundy said. Mundy also found hope by listening to the inspiring stories of IJM field office workers.
“To see the sacrifices they give to see their communities restored is huge,” Mundy said. She recounted the story of one woman who continued to work for IJM even after her ten-year-old daughter died of Leukemia because, even in the face of such personal loss, she believed strongly in ending human trafficking. The stories impacted Mundy personally. “How much am I willing to sacrifice to see justice done?” she asked herself.
Since coming back to PHC from the trip, Mundy’s friends have noticed her passion for human rights has only increased. “Right now, [IJM’s] at the very core of her being,” Caleb Loomis, a senior IPP major and Mundy’s boyfriend, said. “Alyssa’s always about investing in others, and being able … to have first-hand experience is a gift she can give and impart with others, whether it be Dr. Baskerville as we discuss human trafficking in class or just conversations with friends.”
Mundy will be graduating this May. While she does know she would love to work with student mobilization at IJM’s headquarters in Washington D.C., she does not know for sure what she will be doing after she graduates. However, she is confident God has a plan for her. “I do know God has the next step and I’ll find it out when it’s the right time,” Mundy said.