Within the last 5 years Alezandra Russell has added a handful of new titles to her ever expanding resume: wife: social entrepreneur: traveler: foodie: and bi-continental citizen. Reluctant to fall into daily complacency Alezandra quickly woke-up to the brutalities facing our globe’s most vulnerable when she visited Thailand in 2009 and witnessed firsthand the horrors of sex-trafficking and child prostitution. Just 3 months after her initial trip to Thailand, 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. RCP provides various services and supports to boys who are victims of child prostitution & 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.
As Chief Recycler and Founder of the Recycled Child Project, 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 RCP Youth Center is a place where boys can get a hot meal, learn English and life skills, receive health services, case management and support. At night, with condoms and business cards in hand, Alezandra seats herself in the boy bars amongst the sex-tourists and sex pushers to outreach to the exploited boys encouraging them to make the 3-block-trip over to the RCP Youth Center. Alezandra stands undeterred in her commitment to recycling, rehabilitating and restoring the young lives of these boys who have been deemed replaceable and disposable by their families and society alike. Fully aware of the work hazards involved in the male-only work environment, Alezandra pushes on to bring necessary health services and social services to these victims who are hungry, homeless and abused.
When she is not donning jean shorts and flip flops while running the RCP Youth Center Alezandra can be found donning a suit as she strives to educate students, doctors, teachers and policy makers about sex-trafficking, child prostitution and child sex-tourists. Alezandra Russell finds her encouragement, support and inspiration from her supportive husband and her fellow co-Millennials who are creating stellar social movements (i.e.: Guys from Summit Series, Rachel2 of the Sold Project, Yael Cohen of Fuck Cancer, Sean Carasso of Falling Whistles, Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise, et al.)
What are you working on right now?
Everything and anything related to RCP (Recycled Child Project). My trip to Thailand which took me into the secret and not-so-secret horrors of sex-trafficking and child prostitution made me an overnight advocate for the boys of the Red Light District. In the 8 months of the RCP Youth Center’s existence, RCP has been working with over a dozen boys who are not only victims of trafficking but who lack access to the most basic human rights: shelter, food and opportunity. Being committed to an overlooked and forgotten population makes our task at hand a massively large one, therefore every hour of my day relates to raising funds for food, shelter, clothes, health services and education for these 20 boys.
3 trends that excite you?
(1) Socially responsible products we can all indulge in (i.e.: RCP Products, TOMS, Charity Water, etc)
(2) Millennials who balance work: fun: social responsibility: travel: and Family
(3) The power of synergy and supporting the efforts of others as if they were your own.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To bring an idea to fruition it’s necessary to be able to visualize it. You’ve got to detach yourself from the noise of your own criticism and critiques…then blow it up, meaning just do it! I’ve been taught to think big—think the impossible. When you limit yourself you limit your ideas. If you are feeling massively inspired do it and make sure you are surrounded by positive and inspiring people (if not then this should be step 1), these people will encourage and cheer you on as you make the test flight. It will be these same people who will be there should your flight fail or should it soar. Ideas have infinite possibilities as long as you have the strength to push forward.
What inspires you?
I get the most inspired when I am surrounded by fellow socialheroes (Definition: an individual committed to social change through sustainable and positive action of change). Complacency is the kryptonite to any socialhero and if our generation is to make an impact in the fight against poverty, disease, hunger or trafficking it has to start with a movement of social responsible individuals with a solid understanding of their part in the global puzzle.
What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
Growing up in suburbia Maryland surrounded by happily complacent people with little passion for what was going on “over there” left me uninspired and unmoved towards any cause. Once this veil of complacency was abruptly lifted I realized just how many years I had failed to fill my community with purpose, achievement and social good.
From my early 20’s to my mid-20’s all that encompassed my world was a daily routine with few philanthropic efforts put towards my immediate community. I became the priest that walked past the man in distress rather than the Samaritan who without question rushed to the man’s side—that is when I realized change had to first start with me before I could be expected to change the world around me.
What is one book and one tool that help you bring ideas to life?
My Red Moleskine brings with it history from past philosophers, artists and lucid dreamers. It carries all of my thoughts and ideas including my list of top restaurants, hot spots, charities and people. Get one!
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Profit is not necessarily measure in dollars, yen, baht or pounds, but in the amount of good you have done in the lives of others. What’s your currency worth to you?
Who is the one person you’d love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Rachel Sparks-Graeser & Rachel Goble-Carey of the SOLD Project. They are 2 awesome women doing awesome work in Thailand to prevent at-risk youth from falling into sex-trafficking by providing them with scholarships so that they may stay in school.
How do I amplify my profits?
Remember life is not about amplifying just your financial currency. It is about amplifying the good you do in the world by spreading your wealth to others. The more you start channeling your power to do good, the more profit you will encounter.
How can you essentially ditch your husband for 6 months out of the year and be okay with that?
This is a question/critique that is usually coupled with shock and disapproving undertones, it emerges at parties, dinners and meetings. I tell these obviously disapproving fans to think of my work in Thailand as my social deployment.
Army wives and husbands have to part from their spouses who are deployed for months and even years. I thank those soldiers for the sacrifices they make for our freedom. I believe it is just as important to socially fight so that others might rejoice in that same basic right: freedom from disease, hunger, war, and exploitation—hence social deployment.
Recycled Child Project – www.recycledchildproject.org
RCP Facebook: Recycled Child Project
RCP Twitter: Recycledchild
RCP Blog: recycledchildproject.wordpress.com/
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.