Week 4. Stories of hope.

You’ve all seen the commercials; Sarah McLachlan pulling on your heart strings while showing pictures of tortured, sick, and abused animals, or many different celebrities convincing you that by sending money, you will directly save this malnourished child’s life. This type of media works for some. You feel sad or guilty and so you give a few dollars to make yourself feel better. This type of media is described as poverty porn – “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause.” This is one way of raising awareness and generating funds, and this way will not create sustainable change in the future.

Not For Sale focuses their communication in a way that will never exploit the individual. People will support Not For Sale, not because we used a victim’s story to make them feel bad for not helping, but because we used a survivor’s story to show how we are moving upstream to fight the battle at the origin, to create change so people don’t get trafficked in the first place, not just ‘save’ them after the fact.

This is one of my favorite things about Not For Sale, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to start writing some of our international stories of hope.

A few weeks ago, we announced that thanks to funding from Passion 2012 we have secured a victim service center in South Africa. By itself, it is an amazing story. The team in South Africa has been looking for housing for a while now in order to provide immediate shelter and support to survivors, and I am amazed at the generosity of the Passion 2012 students who have helped this dream come to fruition. But when you have the opportunity to hear first-hand how this will change individual lives, it restores hope that we are making a real difference.

Our most recent article remembers Elizabeth, a trafficking survivor who was stuck waiting for hours for a place to go after being rescued, unable to shower or even change her clothes after a traumatic experience. I was fortunate enough to learn about this story from a colleague who was there the day Elizabeth was rescued. I could hear her pain of not having a place to bring Elizabeth, desperate for the resources to have a safe haven for Elizabeth to go to before being interrogating by the police.

Luckily, Elizabeth is recovering well. But even more luckily, we have now secured a crisis center to help lessen the pain of scared individuals who will benefit greatly by having a safe place to go to. Not For Sale will now be able to provide immediate assistance to survivors where there before was none. These survivors are deemed more likely to report their stories to law enforcement, and thus could directly increase the number of convictions.

No one should have to go through what Elizabeth went through. But now, with the help of our Crisis Center, Not For Sale South Africa will have a direct hand in the immediate rehabilitation of survivors, lessoning the inevitable pain of processing what they’ve been through. For me, it is the stories like this that leave me with hope – just one more step towards creating a better future.

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