Did you know, human trafficking is a worldwide crisis with over 40 million people enslaved all over the globe. Simply rescuing girls and women from their traffickers is not enough. The young women and girls need continued support in order for them to successfully transition into their future. International Sanctuary and Purpose Jewelry’s mission is to empower girls and young women escaping human trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth. For over twelve years, International Sanctuary’s doors have been open to ensure girls and women escaping from human trafficking have a safe, loving community where they belong. It is a place where they can heal from the horrors they’ve experienced, learn to trust other people, and grow into who they were created to be. Says one young woman at the Kampala Sanctuary, “What we went through before happened, but International Sanctuary has helped us to still find value in ourselves.”
Co-Founders, Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey, both saw first-hand the atrocities of human trafficking and asked, “What can we do?” What was needed was a safe and loving workplace where girls could earn a living and gain skills to build their futures. Stephanie moved to Mumbai, India, teaching the art of jewelry making directly to survivors, while Wendy, based in Orange County, California, began educating the community about human trafficking, selling the handcrafted jewelry, and growing the non-profit. There was a gap between rescue and true freedom that International Sanctuary began to fill. The model worked and the supporter base grew as new anti-trafficking partners around the world articulated the need for jobs for girls and women. International Sanctuary currently has five locations around the world, including Mumbai, India; Kampala, Uganda; Tijuana, Mexico; and two in Orange County, California. One of the women at the Tijuana Sanctuary says, “Freedom for me is that we are all equal and we do not have differences between us. Community is what we have here at International Sanctuary.”
Our program activities and outcome goals are planned according to four pillars of personal and economic development: Income, Education, Health Care, and Community. Ensuring that young women can provide for themselves and their families through dignified work is the first step to freedom. For many of the women, this is the first time they have had control over their own money. We work with each participant from helping her open her first bank account, to creating her own individual financial development plan, while conducting training in financial literacy and providing ongoing mentorship in financial management. Girls and women employed by International Sanctuary are receiving professional job training, a stable income, access to health care and the tools necessary to pursue their desired career in life. And it helps, according to a woman in the Mumbai Sanctuary, “The happiest day of my life was when I received my first salary from International Sanctuary. It made me financially independent, and I finally had the freedom to choose
Access to education is an integral part of our program. The young women enter our doors at varying levels of education, many having had very limited access to schooling. After identifying a lack of educational resources in India, International Sanctuary developed a personalized education program through their “Academy”, which was designed to give each woman a basic education to make her better equipped for her future. Each young woman is provided her own learning track, and faithful volunteers in the United States work one-on-one with them through a customized computer program. We also aid in securing scholarships to pursue higher education, and four women in the United States are currently enrolled in college. A young woman in the Orange County Sanctuary calls it, “a new beginning for me. It’s been a wonderful opportunity and a safety net. This is my stepping stone to the next part of my life.”
The Sanctuaries give girls and women a community to belong to. We provide the space where they are able to love and be loved, feel safe, and where they are able to heal, grow, and experience unconditional love from their co-workers as well as trauma-informed staff. For many of the survivors, this is the first healthy community they have experienced, and we have found that community is a necessary ingredient to unlocking true freedom for each woman. Another says, “I have reached a place where my life choices have become better, and I have grown to now manage a team. When I started working here, I never interacted with people, but that’s all in the past. Now I have lots of friends. International Sanctuary has always helped me financially and for my health and education. I’m so confident now. I was even able to buy my own house!”
By December 2020, International Sanctuary aims to launch five new Sanctuaries. Through requests from collaborative partners, International Sanctuary will deepen its impact to reach more girls and women in Kampala, Uganda and Mumbai, India. We also aim to open new Sanctuaries in Los Angeles, California and Cebu, Philippines. Just as our first Sanctuary began, each will start with a small group of women who establish the values to ensure it is a safe, healthy community where girls and women belong. We hope each girl and woman will know deep in her soul that she is loved, unconditionally accepted, and created for a purpose. For more, you can Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 752-7788.
Here are some of the things volunteers do:
Host an Event: Plan a jewelry sales event in your community, company or invite us to join an event you are already planning.
Shop Purpose Jewelry: Purchase jewelry handcrafted by artisan survivors and support living wages, health care, education, and community for the women employed in our Sanctuaries. Shop now: purposejewelry.org
Become a Freedom Partner: Give $24 a month to International Sanctuary to open the door for young women waiting to join our program here in Southern California and around the world. internationalsanctuary.com/donate
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