“On a stage, lit by spotlights, were boys in a line, kids probably twelve to sixteen years old. They were practically naked, wearing nothing but skimpy white thongs, a number pinned to each … A boy was ordered like a customer would order a drink, brought to the table by the manager to be checked out.”
The words in the book made 16 year-old Cheryl Perera ill. “How can children my age and younger be exploited in this way? I’m just a teenager, but how can I stop this?” What began as a high school project would take an unexpected turn when she encountered a description of the global child sex trade in her research, and embarked on a whirlwind mission to Sri Lanka for answers.
From meetings with an advisor to Sri Lanka’s President, to risking her own life in an undercover operation that would help bring a child sex offender to justice, Cheryl did the remarkable to find answers. Still, the most powerful ones came from the child survivors who invited her into their world, and asked her to share their stories. Cheryl made a silent promise. She would do just that and much more.
In Canada, Cheryl launched a national awareness campaign that united young people as the pulse. But things didn’t stop there. The seed had been planted for something more powerful and innovative. An organization that would put young people—for the first time in history— at the frontlines of the struggle to end the global sex trade in children. And the time had come. Taking the cue, Cheryl rallied nine friends and together they founded OneChild.