Often times as a society we want to push for overall systemic change – new laws, international treaties, or government structures that can address the problems we seek to end. However, there is a danger that we can lose sight of what these changes mean on the individual level for those who have suffered. We must ask ourselves, how does international recognition of the issue or new policies translate to the services we provide for survivors? For this reason, it is imperative to have survivors’ voices be heard and to have their unique perspectives recognized in every aspect of our fight against human trafficking.
With this in mind, the Client Services department at Polaris Project embodies the values of service, empowerment and a holistic-centered approach in the support that we provide the survivors we serve. Survivors’ input and perspective is important in the programs we develop and the assistance that we provide. We also recognize that the language we use and the tools we implement can impact the transformative change that a survivor may undergo from survivor to leader.
We grapple with these concepts in our approach to better serve survivors and address their needs. Three months ago the DC Client Services department asked staff to help create workshops and empowerment tools to assist our clients in their healing process and teach them any skills that they would like to learn. With this in mind the Polaris Project staff members helped create the following workshops to address particular areas that the clients had expressed interest in wanting to learn.
- Knitting circle
- Creative Writing Workshop
- Computer skills Workshop
- Budgeting Skills Workshop
- Job training/employment Workshop
- Spanish Therapy group
The goal of these workshops is to provide both a form of therapy through which the survivors can express themselves and to teach a skill that they can use in their own professional development. In each of these workshops, I have witnessed the formation of a sisterhood through which survivors have built close-knit relationships while providing each other with the much-needed support that each one deserves. As we work alongside survivors to brainstorm and create survivor-led workshops and partnerships with outside organizations, survivors will continue to view themselves as leaders and understand that they are the true voices of the anti-trafficking movement.
Your contribution to this program would be greatly appreciated and would directly impact the survivors of human trafficking that we serve.