Bend woman travels the world on foot to fight human trafficking


Angela Maxwell began a journey more than six years ago to travel the world on foot.

The 39-year-old Bend woman saw the global trip as a personal challenge and a way to raise money for a nonprofit organization that supports sheltering and educating victims of sex trafficking.

This month, Maxwell is completing her trek. She will return to Bend the week before Christmas after walking more than 20,000 miles across four continents, a few islands and 13 countries.

Along the way, she raised about $12,500 for Her Future Coalition, an organization that supports sex trafficking victims around the world. She is still accepting donations online to reach her goal of $20,000 for the coalition.

“It was a great adventure,” Maxwell said in a phone call. “But I also wanted it to contribute in some way. To find a way to give back was just the sweet spot.”

When Maxwell left from Bend on May 2, 2014, she also left her career as a life coach and business consultant. She sold all of her belongings, except what would fit in a small bike trailer.

“I had to let go of everything,” she said. “I just have a box of things at my friend’s house. Other than that, I don’t have a car. I don’t have a home. Literally, everything I own fits on the cart.”

Maxwell felt compelled to experience different cultures and support women in countries around the world. Throughout her life, Maxwell has supported women empowerment causes. She previously led an effort called “Project SHE Thrives,” where she traveled to different cities to interview women about how they persevered in life and how they made their dreams come true.

On her recent journey, Maxwell was reminded how many women in the world do not have the same opportunities or freedoms as she does in the United States.

The thought of how other women and girls struggle inspired Maxwell to finish her journey.

“I never thought of giving up because I just couldn’t bear the thought of failing at this,” she said.

But there were many times over the past few years when Maxwell’s plans went awry.

In Vietnam, she had to stop for a month after getting a fever from a mosquito bite. Her cart broke down in Mongolia. And a few times she was caught in rain storms.

She always tried to carry enough water and food, like dried noodles or beans and rice. She wore out two to three pairs of shoes each year, walking up to 20 miles a day.

Despite the challenges, Maxwell made lifelong friends throughout her journey. A woman she met in Italy asked if Maxwell could be her child’s godmother. And a sheep farmer on the island of Sardinia invited her to stay a month and taught her about the farming lifestyle.

“You just have that special connection that lasts a lifetime,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell spent Thanksgiving in Boise, Idaho, with a few friends and is planning to walk the last stretch along U.S. Highway 20 into Bend.

For those who want to celebrate with Maxwell, she is inviting people to join her to walk the last mile of her journey through Bend. Anyone is welcome to meet Maxwell at noon on Dec. 20 outside REI in the Old Mill District and walk a mile to the Commons Cafe and Taproom by Drake Park.

Maxwell can’t wait to meet with old friends once she reaches Bend. She plans to stay in town for a month or two to regroup after the long trip.

After that, she plans to write a book about her journey. She also wants to pitch a TV show idea that focuses on women’s different roles and jobs around the world from ancient traditions to modern jobs.

Beyond those projects, she has no idea where her life will take her next. And she’s fine with that.

“I keep myself open,” she said. “I’m ready for the next adventure.”


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