I’ll never forget my fifteenth birthday. I was playing in the annual regional soccer tournament, held at my school. My team was losing one to nothing in the final game of the tournament. Pressure mounted on me, the captain, to lift the spirits of my teammates and also do some of my magic footwork to get a goal and tie up the game. I had assured my team that we would win, despite our having lost to same team the last three years in a row. But now I wasn’t so sure we could. The other team was purposefully fouling me, and one player even kicked me in the back, sending pain shooting up my spine. I wondered if I could even finish the game.
That game wasn’t the first time I’d been set back because of someone else’s actions. In 2008, five years before that soccer game, the forces of my country’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, destroyed thousands of Zimbabwean businesses, including my father’s. My father was left with no work as Zimbabwe slid into an economic depression with the world’s worst inflation.To survive, my family had to separate. My father’s friend paid the fees to send me away to school so my father could search for work, while my mother left the country to work for a South African family doing childcare.
Things soon got worse. Without our knowledge, the South African family took my mother to the United States, and trafficked her. They took her passport and documents, held her against her will, and forced her to work without pay, doing round-the-clock childcare for three solid years.

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