Everyday Hero: Orlando student raising awareness about human trafficking

By Ed Heiland, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, May 11, 2015, 12:04 PM EDT

Many people strive to stop injustice, but that fight for one Central Florida student hit surprisingly close to home.

Da Yan Zin is living the American Dream.

Raised in a Chinese orphanage, Zin was adopted by the McDonough family when she was 4 years old. Now, she's an honor roll student and athlete at Orlando's Bishop Moore High School, and she knows she is one of the lucky ones.

"I read an article about five years ago about a Chinese orphanage director who sold girls into the sex slavery industry," Zin said.

Discovering a shadowy world, she worked to create a club: Students Wanting to Abolish Trafficking, or SWAT.

"When I found out that Florida has the third highest rates of human trafficking charges in our country, that was really shocking," Zin said.

The club started a fundraiser, "Loose change to loosen chains."

"Basically, I labeled a large (zip-close) bag for every students," Zin said. "Students and their families collected loose change to put in the bag."

The effort raised more than $5,000 for the International Justice Mission, which helps rescue those who are enslaved, as well as prosecute offenders.

Zin was recently appointed to West Point and, while fighting for her adopted country, she plans to continue the fight against human trafficking.

"I feel like when more people find out about human trafficking and what's going on, and then they realize they can do something and they can bring awareness," Zin said. "Just talk to their friends and family about human trafficking."