We were just four and seven years old when our immigrant parents divorced. Few other parents at the time were separating in our all-American suburban community, and that filled us with insecurities and confusion. At least we had each other and could be each other’s protector and close confidante. It is impossible to measure the bond that formed between us.
Our grandmother lived with us during our parents' divorce. She was a lady of strong Christian faith and character, and she encouraged us to be determined women and to stand up for people who didn’t have a voice. We took her words and lessons to heart.
As kids, we fantasized about escaping to distant lands. We played a game that involved a spaceship that could transport us from place to place, where we could embark on amazing adventures, battling villains and coming to the aid of those in need.
As adults, we found that through journalism, we could open people's eyes to what was happening in the real world, just as Grandma had encouraged us to do. Between the two of us, we’ve spent more than twenty-five years traveling the globe.
We've seen things during our journeys that have moved us, from an Indian sex worker who has devoted her life to saving girls on the street, to ex-gang members in Los Angeles trying to bring positive change to their communities, to people rescuing children from childtrafficking rings in Ghana. We've also encountered things that have scarred us, from women violently gang-raped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to people forced into slavery in the jungles of Brazil, to whole communities ravaged by toxic pollutants in China.
These experiences have filled us with a desire to tell the world about the people we’ve met and the things we have witnessed. We have been driven by a passion to try to be the eyes and ears for people who wish to explore unfamiliar cultures.
When, in March 2009, one of us got into trouble while reporting a story about the thousands of people being trafficked from North Korea into China, the other one jumped into action to try to help. Our bond as sisters and best friends got us through this horrifying time, even though we were thousands of miles apart. We drew strength from somewhere inside.
During this period of darkness, we experienced rays of light. They came in the form of unexpected relationships that evolved even in this time of crisis. One of us developed a better understanding of her captors and they of her. The other was helped by loads of people, many of whom she’d never met, who showed up to offer support. Throughout it all, we were able to experience what happens when human beings get a chance to interact face-to-face, eye-to-eye, even if their countries are "enemies."
This is our story.