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Filtering by Tag: Human trafficking

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Lindsey Malcolm

Recently, a young woman entered our doors in Orange County seeking help after escaping from her captors. Years of trauma were evident in her eyes and spirit. However, while she was physically free, her mind was still caged. In our eleven years fighting human trafficking, we have found that escaping is just the beginning of freedom.

Healing from trauma is a multi-year process with two steps forward and one step back. Frustrating, painful, difficult, hopeful, and joyful, the journey is long but worth every moment. That’s why we at International Sanctuary and PURPOSE Jewelry focus on holistic care, providing community, education, job training and a path forward to our participants who all have their own stories. Financial independence, hope, dignity and freedom give these women and girls a future and the knowledge that they can take care of themselves and and strive for independence.

Millions of women around the world do not know that the doors to their future are just waiting to be opened. Facing the difficulties of severe poverty, illiteracy and cultural devaluation, leaves them more susceptible to being exploited and re-exploited by traffickers. When International Sanctuary entered the fight, we found a gap between the assistance given to women in aftercare homes and reintegration into the workplace. We work to fill that gap by providing a loving workplace where women enter a community of trust, encouragement and empowerment.

At a first glance, our program provides steady income for women to support themselves and their families. However, it’s the incorporation of education, health and community that sustains our mission to empower girls and women escaping human trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth.

We walk along these individuals on their journey offering help, not handouts, because empowerment is about knowing that you have the efficacy to care for take care of yourself.

When you support International Sanctuary, you help open the doors for women and girls around the world.





Bring Freedom to Uganda

Lindsey Malcolm

Did you know International Sanctuary is raising money to open our doors in Kampala, Uganda? Our campaign is called Bring Freedom to Uganda and we have raised $121,400 of our $150,000 goal!

Uganda Banner 1.jpeg

While trafficking varies in every country due to government, culture, and economy, the trauma suffered by the victims is largely the same. Here in southern California, we serve survivors of trafficking who have large gaps in their education, do not have any way of supporting themselves financially, and escaped trafficking feeling broken, isolated, and rejected. The girls 9,394 miles away in Kampala feel the same way.

Ugandan girls and young women suffer from 83% unemployment. Trapped in extreme poverty without any employment opportunities, they are highly vulnerable to be exploited or sold, forced, or tricked into slavery. Not only do trafficking victims in the world come from Uganda, there are also victims who manage to escape while passing through the country en route to other places. 

Human trafficking is a global issue, affecting every country in the world. When we see this injustice, we can’t help but feel like we should do something, but it can be tough to know where to start.

There are 3 powerful things you can do right now to help Bring Freedom to Uganda:

  • Give -- A very generous donor has agreed to match all donations up to $50,000 so that means your contribution can pack twice the punch! Technology has made it so easy to give, that you can make a meaningful difference in a matter of minutes.

  • Sponsor -- If you’d like to give the gift of true freedom on a regular basis, our automated system can securely process your payment every month, week, or quarter. Because PURPOSE covers all of the operating expenses, every dollar entrusted to us by our donors goes directly to serve survivors as they rebuild their lives.

  • Share -- After you give, introduce our cause to 3 people and ask them to get involved. Whether you email this blog to your family, post it on Facebook, or text the Bring Freedom to Uganda link to a friend, you can also make a difference by spreading the word!

When you join us in this fight, you will save and transform lives. Your involvement can mean a bright future not just for a survivor, but for her daughter, her family, and her community. Together, we can prevent these girls from being trafficked across international borders into places like the Middle East and Asia, even farther from their homes and from the hope they so desperately need. You are a force for change in this world  - you can do something big!

Click here to Bring Freedom to Uganda today.

She needed help.

Lindsey Malcolm

Little did she know when she boarded a flight from Seattle to San Francisco that Sheila Fredrick would become somebody’s hero. The Alaska Airlines flight attendant trained by Airlines Ambassadors International, an organization that has teamed up with the airline industry to protect vulnerable children knew the signs of what to look for.  Shelia was empowered to act when she saw a disheveled girl traveling with an older, well-groomed man. Something wasn't right.

And it wasn't.

Using a note in a lavatory, Shelia was able to discreetly communicate with the teen. When the flight attendant retrieved the note that read "I need help", she acted at once. Police were waiting when the flight landed. The girl was taken to a safe location and the man transporting her was taken into custody. 

This is a perfect example of the tremendous work our partners in the anti-trafficking realm are doing every day: training people to spot the signs, know how to act, and be a force for positive change. We are privileged to work along side these organizations to provide restorative and holistic care those those escaping trafficking.

Shelia, thanks for showing us that one person can truly make a difference!

Image from NBC News. 

Image from NBC News. 

But I'm just one person...

Lindsey Malcolm

How many times have you looked at a problem so big that you actually felt helpless against it? When we look at human trafficking - 45.8 million people being bought and sold in the world today -- it seems insurmountable. It seems too big for just one person...

"I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will."
-Edward Everett Hale

You are one person, and so am I. Your favorite barista, the UPS guy, the person who cuts your hair - they're each one person, too. But together, we have better odds! Suddenly, we've gone from one person to five people. Five people can raise $1,000. Five people can reach hundreds, maybe thousands on Facebook. Five people can fundamentally transform the lives of human trafficking survivors.

What if we were a team of 10? 50? 200??
Imagine the impact we could have!

Individuals are powerful beings. We all have stories. We are motivated by different things. We have different friends, different communities, different lives. And that is what makes the individual amazing: an enormous power contained in a single heart waiting to be ignited by a common cause. 

What's your story? How did you get involved in the fight against human trafficking? Do you give freedom through raising awareness, financial support, buying jewelry

Harness your power and build your team. Who are the 5 people you will share your story with? Take your story and share it with your friends on social media or via email - tell them why you care, and ask them to join your team. Set a goal and rally your team to achieve it!

Help us build a community dedicated to empowerment, freedom, and change. Together, we'll move mountains. Together, we can put an end to human trafficking.

Gratitude For Our Partnership with IJM

Lindsey Malcolm

In 2007, when International Sanctuary’s founder, Stephanie Pollaro and Sunita Khursule, Director of Operations, began digging deep into the local work of the anti-slavery movement in Mumbai, India, she noted a glaring gap: after-care resources for rescued victims were limited in diversity, resources, and accessibility. With initial guidance from International Justice Mission, Stephanie launched iSanctuary with the intent of providing holistic rehabilitation—economic viability, education, personal growth, therapy, healthcare, and training in life skills—to ensure comprehensive restoration and sustained freedom.

International Justice Mission (IJM) has devoted almost two decades to researching, combatting, and mobilizing a movement against modern-day slavery. Since the organization’s inception in 1997, IJM has grown into the world’s largest anti-human trafficking group, fighting against traffickers, corruption, and broken justice systems in eighteen locations to rescue victims of violence and exploitation across the globe. We are grateful for our partnership with IJM and acknowledge our efforts wouldn’t be possible without them.

As allies against the atrocities of trafficking in Mumbai, iSanctuary and IJM have developed a fond and impactful partnership since Stephanie started her aftercare community. Last week, I met with an IJM Mumbai staff member, Shalini Newbigging, aftercare manager, to learn more about the significance of our organizations’ allegiance. (The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)            

Kate: How would you characterize the current partnership between IJM and iSanctuary?

Shalini: Once the girls are in the iSanctuary program, typically we don't really have to do a lot of follow up; we don't have to worry in that sense, because it's a very holistic program that takes care of education, financial needs, shelter, and home needs. So, I think once we know that the girl is referred to iSanctuary, we know that a lot of her needs are being taken care of. It's really neat to have that.  

Kate: What role do you think that community plays in rehabilitation for survivors participating in our organizations’ programs?

Shalini: Community is an important role in the healing process. You know we all say that no one can live alone—we can’t be our own little islands. Especially for people who have had so much taken away from them, it is an uphill battle to find even simple joys and simple things in life that make them happy. We have to be intentional about having community support. We truly believe in transition homes and group homes because there's such a sense of camaraderie, of belonging, of friendship and we all need that regardless of what we've been through. They need much more support and community work. It's a big need, and we do our best. 

Kate: What are the best qualities that have come out of partnering with iSanctuary, and do you think any of the programming at iSanctuary has informed your work at IJM?

Shalini: The advantages of iSanctuary are that we have so many independent girls now who are earning well, living independently, and have really great solid lives. And who are just doing well without a lot of follow up and support. A lot of the older girls—it's really beautiful see how far they've come, their growth and their journeys and their success stories. And so that definitely is a high point of our partnership, to have that physical representation of a restored girl, living independently, doing something that she really loves, and moving forward in life. It's really cool to know that you guys keep growing, that you have your education program now, and we support what iSanctuary does, and we support the business as you can see [she shows me that she’s wearing Purpose Jewelry earrings!], and we check online and read the blogs. I even talk to my friends in California about iSanctuary because I think it's just so brilliant, I love the quality of products and I love that it directly benefits these girls. We've seen our girls and they're very happy. They enjoy what they do, they're so confident and so independent, so we really appreciate the work that iSanctuary continues to do in the city.

Written By: Kate Poor, India Communications Liason

Updates from the Field

Lindsey Malcolm

Here’s a little window into the goings-on of our India office! These are the compiled articulations of our staff’s current obstacles and little triumphs this week—in their own words—to give you a closer illustration of day-to-day life in iSanctuary Mumbai.

*** 

From our program director, Alyson:

Challenge: Keeping participants consistently focused and engaged is a challenge. Our educational environment is unlike any that most of them have experienced before, and it's difficult to orient to using parts of their minds that have not been encouraged in the past. 

This week I'm experimenting with a few strategic changes to our class plans in order to engage students better and accelerate their development of critical skills and mindsets.  

Victory: “Joining the Academy has clearly enhanced confidence, along with a sense of self- direction and responsibility, in a number of our participants. Two in particular impressed me this week by proactively asking our teacher for make-up work to catch up when they were ill and missed a class!”

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From our new jewelry designer, Collyn:

Challenge: “I am still learning how to create an environment that fosters motivation. Right now I am focusing on connecting with each participant on a deeper level, but that process takes time.

Victory: “Making the first model of a jewelry design can often be a slow and frustrating process.  I am incredibly proud of how hard everyone has been working to create our Spring and Summer 2017 designs.  It's going to be such a beautiful collection.”

From our Academy teacher, Pritish:

Challenge: “I fell sick at the start of the week. I have almost recovered. I am learning how to deal with the frequent change in weather.

Victory: “The assessment tracker is complete. I am looking forward to using the data to guide the instruction.”

From our social worker, Shalem:

Challenge: “With varied levels of comprehension it becomes challenging at times to communicate and ensure each and every student is understanding the points. But the use of visual aides, discussions and quizzes has helped in communicating the themes.” 

Victory: “The theme for last week and the week ahead was on decision making, which includes understanding how the brain senses and responds resulting in decisions at all times. The students were struggling to comprehend that the brain makes decisions at all times, but as we continued to remain focused, the doubts and queries were clarified using visual representations and group discussions. The students have started to appreciate the fact that the brain makes decisions at all things even though we're are not aware about it.”  

From our communications associate, Kate:

Challenge: Working in this sector is incredibly rewarding but, at times, emotionally trying. Learning about how to take care of myself while engaging deeply with the tough issues that we tackle at iSanctuary has proven to be a trying feat.

Victory: My personal celebration for the week entails a project I’ve been working on for several weeks—creating visual aides for the classroom. I am so excited that weeks of brainstorming and designing the visual aides have finally come to fruition! A series of educational and motivation-themed posters are finally printed and hanging in the classroom for our students to use. 

From our founder, Stephanie:

Victory: “A mini victory was watching the Academy math lesson take place upstairs in the workshop. It was so fun to see math taught in a way that relates to the students’ real lives. I wish I had been taught math like this when I was in school!” 

Challenge: “Getting one of the many Christmas shipments out without our production manager! It was tough but I am so proud of the way everyone worked so hard, partnered up to complete big goals, took on extra responsibility and challenged themselves. I think several participants surprised themselves at what they accomplished!”

***

 Because of the girth of obstacles we confront—ranging from the serious societal inequities threatening the safety of our participants to the quotidian infrastructural challenges of running a social organization in Mumbai—it is vital for us to reflect on the pressing areas where we can improve our work, while acknowledging and giving thanks for our successes. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are immensely grateful for all of the staff’s and participants’ accomplishments this week!

Beauty Outweighs Ugly

Lindsey Malcolm

At first, “beauty that outweighs ugly” may sound like an outward, superficial beauty. That is not what I'm referring to here.  This is not beauty that is visible to the eye. I'm talking about the beauty of a soul.  It's the beauty of a woman that has suffered at the hands of another and whose soul is blossoming, regardless of past circumstances. The ugly that I'm referring to is not outward either.   I'm referring to the ugliness of Human Trafficking. 

iSanctuary has boldly stepped into this issue and is shedding light on this ugly truth that is happening worldwide, as well as right here in the U.S.  Through iSanctuary, I've learned not to judge.  Now if I see a woman walking the street that appears to be a prostitute, I send up a word of prayer for her instead; with an understanding that most likely her life circumstances have been unspeakable.

 I love that the women iSanctuary serves are learning to make beautiful things with their hands, especially after having suffered at the hands of another.  They begin to embrace community and are learning to trust again. PURPOSE Jewelry is making a difference in these women as they learn to sustain themselves and rebuild their lives on different principles.  Principles that say they are valued, they are beautiful and they are loved. 

I sell PURPOSE Jewelry at my hair salon, A Place of Our Own. It not only brightens up the space, it opens up a conversation.  Many people are unaware of this issue and how much it is growing. It gives me the opportunity to tell the girls’ stories one jewel at a time.  With their signature on the tag, it makes it personal. I feel I know these women and am very proud of their accomplishments. 

You may not have a place of business where you can sell PURPOSE, but you can support them by having your own trunk show.  By doing so, you too can shed light on the ugly truth of Human Trafficking and give a voice to the beautiful girls iSanctuary serve. 

Contributed by: Debbie Jackobs, owner of A Place of Our Own Salon

For information on how you can host your own trunk show, please contact Jackie Wong at events@isanctuary.org or call (949) 752-7788. 

Stronger and Wiser for the Second Generation

Alexis Miller

As the women in our Mumbai Sanctuary grow and change, so do their families! Several of the women are married, one is a recent mother, and one is a brand new mama-to-be! Watching the young women become wives and mothers naturally should be celebrated, but even more so because of obstacles which they have overcome. As shared in The Art of Dreaming, many young ladies must learn to dream, to plan and establish bright futures for themselves. With the addition of a husband and child, we are working to create stronger, wiser families.

During the past couple months I have had the privilege to encourage one of our expectant mothers. Each week we read a website explaining her baby's development. As her pregnancy progresses, the website highlights a fruit or vegetable that represents the baby's size or weight. Of course, she loves the veggie comparisons!  How fun for her to be able to hold a mango and think, "My baby is this big!" What a joy to see the thrill on her face as she learns more about her baby, and as she talks about her and her husband's plans for taking care of the child.

The loving and stable environments that iSanctuary mothers are able to give to their children provide a stark contrast to the worlds in which many of our Sanctuary participants were raised. This is our ultimate goal at iSanctuary: creating stronger, wiser women who create healthy, sustainable futures. Little girls who are valued and educated. Stable income sources for parents. A lack of the fear and violence that often lead to abuse of young girls and women. These kinds of things are necessary in order to give survivors of human trafficking a way out of the cycle that could so easily claim them otherwise. At iSanctuary, the second generation represents for us the long-term victories that we fight to give our ladies the space and resources to achieve. That makes those little baby fingers and toes more precious to us than almost anything else I can imagine.

Erin Arendse
Program Liaison 

Rebuilding Trust through Resilient Community

Alexis Miller

Our community reinforces the idea: You belong.

In a recent survey of iSanctuary Mumbai participants, 77% described the community environment as the element they value most about their experience working at iSanctuary. Over half described the Sanctuary as family. This data is exciting because it shows that our program is working.

Many human trafficking survivors have complex social histories that may include neglect and betrayal from those close to them beginning at a young age. Isolation from others is one of the primary means that traffickers use to coerce and dominate their victims.  Any sense of belonging to a community that they previously had is stripped away.

Being a part of the iSanctuary community reduces isolation and allows for self-development, team work, and improved social skills. Resilient community support empowers people to follow their dreams and make positive choices for the future. We rally together to encourage each iSanctuary woman to become the best version of herself, and the community allows safe space to consider how she can successfully achieve her dreams.  

Forming a strong community during reintegration for human trafficking survivors is critical to healing. It is important for iSanctuary to cultivate ways for the women we serve to heal. Simply providing employment, support, counseling, or education is not enough; it is the community that ties each of these things together and creates a long-term impact. We recognize that while they are ready to move ahead with new chapters in their lives, the young women are still struggling to formulate their identities and learning to relate to others without mistrust, fear, and confusion.

As we develop The Academy, we are exploring ways to purposefully build on our current community by incorporating group belonging and healing into all that we do. The Academy will strengthen the community through intentional focus on rebuilding trust and fostering essential character traits such as integrity and gratitude.  

With each birthday that we celebrate, with each English lesson, with each opportunity for the young women to teach and guide each other in work activities, we seek to cultivate community membership, responsibility, and care.

Join us in creating a thriving, healing-focused community with The Academy. Give a gift today and help us reach our goal of $35,000 this July!

Co-Authored by: Alyson Emory Holsclaw, Program Development Specialist and Alexis Miller, Development and Fundraising Coordinator

The Day to Day

Lindsey Malcolm

Some days you spend checking quality control on products, reviewing impact metrics, and typing minutes from the most recent staff meeting. And some days India puts a satellite in orbit around Mars, which leads you to discover that one of the girls in the office didn’t know that there were other planets. So instead of checking products, you spend the next hour trolling YouTube and Google Images for pictures of the solar system and videos of Neil Armstrong moon-walking. Go figure.

Being part of the lives of the iSanctuary young women, in such a consistent way sometimes means filling in the gaps where they have not previously had teachers, mentors, or sisters (Example: Space 101: Introduction to the Solar System). In some ways, this is the most difficult part of the job because it’s time-consuming and unpredictable. It seems like the days with the longest to do lists are also the days where someone has a serious problem with a roommate or needs help with logic homework. (I have NEVER taken a logic class. Sorry honey, but this homework is just as indecipherable to me as it is to you… What does “indecipherable” mean? Oi…) But on the other hand, sometimes it means you get to have great conversations about healthy dating relationships, or why eating street food can make you sick, or whether or not aliens are real.

The best part is that it works both ways of course. Not only am I able to offer my perspective into their lives, but they offer their perspective into my life as well. A life skills coach comes in once a week to spend time with the ladies in the office, and she spent time recently teaching them the importance of good nutrition. Meanwhile, the other interns and I had developed something of a bad habit of eating Maggi for lunch (the Indian equivalent of Top Ramen) on a fairly regular basis. After their nutrition class, the girls were quick to point out to us that this was incredibly unhealthy and that we should be eating only whole wheat grains as well as fruits and vegetables. I am happy to report that our eating habits have actually improved since that day.

It can be quite easy in the flurry of filling orders, market runs, and creating reports to forget the larger picture of what we are here to do - bringing wisdom, worth, and dignity. But I love the day to day moments because they are so vital to teaching and developing the characteristics we desire to instill in the young women of iSanctuary. These human interactions, the relationships with each other, are what make us who we are. 

- Written By: Erin Arendse, Program Liason