While visiting Thailand in 2009, Alezandra Russell witnessed firsthand the horrors of sex-trafficking and child prostitution. Just three months after that initial trip, Alezandra ditched her desk job and grabbed her passport for a bi-continental existence as a modern-day abolitionist where she founded the Recycled Child Project, which later became URBAN LIGHT. Alezandra pawned her engagement and wedding rings in order to start the organization. URBAN LIGHT provides various services and support to boys who are victims of child prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation in Thailand. Very much an overlooked and neglected population, Alezandra is committed to empowering these boys by providing them with realistic opportunities, services and programs for a life outside the grasp of sex-tourists and sex-pushers.
Alezandra challenges the Thai sex industry on a daily basis as she makes the Red Light District her office. Located within the core of the Red Light District, the Youth Center is a place where boys can get a hot meal, learn English and life skills, and receive health services, case management and support. At night, with condoms and business cards in hand, Alezandra seats herself in the bars amongst the sex-tourists and sex-pushers to reach out to the exploited boys, encouraging them to make the three-block-trip over to the Youth Center. Alezandra stands undeterred in her commitment to rehabilitating and restoring the young lives of these boys who have been deemed replaceable and disposable by their families and society alike.
In addition to her efforts in Thailand, Alezandra is working closely with D.C. policy-makers to implement and pass legislation surrounding the prevention of international child-trafficking. Realizing the great potential of students to be modern day change-makers, she has initiated a Campus Awareness Campaign which provides an entry point for youth involvement in combating sex-trafficking.