An iCompany Offering A Product That Repairs Broken Lives, Not Phones

human-trafficking-chain

In this day and age of the consumer it is hard to take our eyes off ourselves sometimes. Advertisements and media in general are all geared toward making you focus on yourself and what you don’t have and how to create a better you.

But what about people who live in parts of the world where there is no one to help them better their lives? Thankfully there are companies in the western world who have broken hearts for these broken lives and have dedicated their efforts and resources to making a difference.

When you hear the phrase “iCompany” you immediately think of some gadget or piece of tech. When we heard about iSanctuary it completely opened our minds up to a new definition of the term. It is an accessory brand that tells you to “purchase with a purpose”: To rescue women from the horrific human trafficking agenda and give them employable skills to start a new life.

The company was founded by California-based duo Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey who share the same desire to see young women set free from the bondage of human sex trafficking and transformed into powerful women. iSanctuary contacted us recently as they share our the belief of our movement and wanted us to share more about what they do.

Isanctuary founders

Stephanie developed a passion for this cause after reading a magazine article in 2003 which outlined the brutality of human sex trafficking in India and around the world. After traveling to the sub continent and working with an Indian organization that served women and girls in red-light districts she was struck by the need to provide skills training and employment alternatives for women rescued form forced commercial sexual exploitation.

Today she is lives in Mumbai, India, but the company’s vision has expanded across the United States and Mexico where they developed an exciting initiative in 2010 called POST; Professional Opportunities for Survivors of Trafficking. This is a nine month program for survivors rescued from the United States. They receive job training, computer skills, and handle jewelry orders and inventory. The goal is for these women to go through our program in order to be able to get a full time job in the workplace, in order to reintegrate back into society. iSanctuary are one of the few social enterprises to have a program like this in the States.

WEB-IndiaQuote750

Marketing coordinator Michelle Johnson tells us how they work with the girls and what kind of an impact it has on their new lives.

“We show them what it’s like to have a positive experience with authority, and how to learn self-sufficiency. The women learn inventory management, shipping and receiving, and product quality control.”

“We never kick them out of the program or anything like that, we just encourage them that they do have enough work experience, and would qualify for a full time job elsewhere. So far, we’ve had 13 women go through our program, and they’ve all been able to get full time jobs elsewhere – which is amazing!”

It is more than just a company that teaches former sexual victims to make jewelery. It is iSanctuary’s goal to see the girls and women they serve move from victim, to survivor, and survivor to advocate.

WEB-USquote750

Here are a couple of survivor stories they shared with us exclusively:

 Megala* grew up in deep poverty in Bangladesh – poverty which eventually forced her family to move Mumbai in search of work.  Megala’s new step-father started negotiating a way to make money from her innocence.  Working with another man who was similarly trying to prostitute his 15-year-old sister-in-law, he started shopping the sex industry for men who would pay for the opportunity to abuse his 12-year-old stepdaughter.
At one such meeting, he showed a picture of his “daughter” Megala, and explained that she was a virgin, and began to negotiate a price.
When Megala’s step-father purchased her a new outfit and told her he was bringing her to visit her uncle, she had no idea of his real intentions.  She accompanied him to the hotel where he planned to sell her for the first time.  There, they also met with the young sister-in-law of his coworker.  It was there at the hotel, on the brink of assault, that investigators, partnering with local authorities, intervened and rescued Megala and the other young girl who waited with her from forced prostitution.
Her stepfather and his coworker were both convicted of procuring minor girls for sex, selling minor girls for prostitution, and unlawfully compelling the girls to work against their will.  Each of the perpetrators was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Megala moved to a long-term aftercare home, where she has had the opportunity to heal in safety and security. Shortly after, Megala joined iSanctuary’s jewelry classes. Her soft gentle spirit was immediately displayed. Megala enjoyed making jewelry and caught on quickly. While she continues her education, she has been able to earn an income while she attends school. Her earnings have doubled in the bank from her savings account!  Megala is continuing her studies and desires to become a social worker or a drawing teacher.  She says that as a social worker she will be able to go back to the slums where she grew up and help other children get food and housing.  She would tell the girls in the slums her own story and give them advice about what to do in the future – how it is important to study and get a job and care for their children.
*A pseudonym, used for the protection of the victim.
_____________________________________________________________________

In the darkness of Bangladesh a girl slept on the dirt floor of a shack. As Saheli slept, a neighbor crept into the house and kidnapped her. Rendered unconscious, Saheli awoke in Mumbai, far from her village and her home. As a 12 year old village girl she was very confused and afraid which led her to trust the one person she knew, her neighbor. He lied and told her that a job had been arranged for her in a restaurant. But Saheli never made it to that restaurant. Instead, she spent the first week in Mumbai being beaten, starved and raped. Once her spirit was broken, she spent every day and night for the remaining four years as a sex slave for a brothel owner.
Fortunately, Saheli’s story doesn’t end in a brothel– she was rescued.
Saheli joined International Sanctuary in 2010, participating in jewelry classes and mastering the skill quite quickly. Though Saheli often had difficulty with many of the other girls in the aftercare home, she quickly learned to trust and respect iSanctuary’s teachers. Saheli has grown to be a young woman who has a unique sense of design and ability to create extraordinary jewelry pieces.

The fight to end the human sex trade is far from over. And while is is an uphill battle, there are places we can get involved. No matter who you are, you can use your time, talents and resources to make a difference in this world. Find something you are passionate about, start a conversation and create a movement.

If you feel strongly about this cause and want to get involved with iSanctuary’s US program POST, click HERE.

 

 

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.