Fil-Australian recognized on Int'l Women’s Day

By Nastasha Tupas, ABS-CBN Australia correspondent

Posted at Mar 09 2011 08:32 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2011 10:22 PM

SYDNEY Australia - In a span of 24 months, Filipino-Australian Stephanie Lorenzo was able to forge Project Futures, a not-for-profit organization that aims to raise awareness about the plight of young women who have been caught up in the sex trade.

The 25-year-old marketing professional was inspired by Road to Lost Innocence, a book written by former sex slave Somaly Mam. She constructed a network of Generation Y volunteers who were eager to offer their skills, time, funds and social networks for her cause.

Lorenzo was able to establish Project Futures after coordinating a charity bike ride across Cambodia which raised $79,000 for the Somaly Mam Foundation, a New York-based anti-trafficking organization, in 2009. It was during the same year that the foundation partnered with her group.

"I'm really excited that this milestone has been reached, and I'm glad that Project Futures has become an outlet for young people to use their skills and talent for a worthy cause. I hope we can reach more people with this global partnership," she said.

The Project Futures team accepts no salary for their work. They are fueled solely by their shared aspiration to end the crimes of human trafficking and sex slavery.

In an incredibly short time, Lorenzo's leadership and charismatic bearing directed Project Futures into a successful movement that empowers Generation Y Australians.

Among them is Project Futures volunteer Natasha Layag, who nominated Lorenzo for Blacktown City's International Women's Day Awards.

"I joined up because I was taken by the fact that a Generation Y rookie like me built a platform for positive change," Layag said.

Lorenzo was recognized at the awards night held on Tuesday, on International Women's Day.

That same day, her group launched a "100,000 video campaign" which hopes to attract more people to Project Future's cause.