Together, Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey founded International Sanctuary, a non-profit that has now helped more than 300 women to heal, learn life skills and earn an income after human trafficking.
In International Sanctuary programs, women are not only provided materials and a salary to make jewelry, but upward mobility in the company, the opportunity to attend an academy – as the majority of the women have a 3rd grade education at most – as well as group and individual counseling and healthcare. Some women choose to remain with the company long term, while others move onto other jobs. One Indian woman from the program is now in her third year of law school.
Stephanie felt called to move to India and help women rescued from human trafficking. While there, she realized the missing link in their recovery was employment. Without a steady job, how can a person survive?
Stephanie started teaching a few of the women how to make jewelry. She knew, if she could spread these women’s stories in the states and sell their jewelry, the women could earn enough to achieve their immediate goals: make a living and stay out of the sex trade. With this, International Sanctuary was born.
Wendy volunteered to be the sales front in the US. She drove store to store, church to church, and sold the jewelry out of her car. Today, International Sanctuary has locations in India, Uganda, Mexico, and Orange County.
Stephanie and Wendy keep their mission in mind as they adapt each sanctuary to its location. For instance, the Sanctuary in Orange County focuses on skills training that will help individuals find employment in California. Many are startled by fact that trafficking goes on right under our noses. Head of Strategic Partnerships, Michelle Bridgeman said, “[Human trafficking] is not just overseas. Once we become aware, it’s easier to see when things aren’t right.”
So what can you, the consumer, do? “Your purchases matter. Be conscious about your purchasing behavior. Know where your money is going.” Their goal is to have ten locations by 2020. Christmas gifts, anyone?