Early January, I got the opportunity to go on a four-day trip to a safe house in San Diego called Generate Hope. Myself and three others pressed up the hill in our bulky APU van to find waiting for us at the top a big and lovely set of house-style buildings surrounded by a white picket fence, completed with a patio set and an endearing old basset hound. It felt like a place that many people could call home.
We wandered in and began introducing ourselves to the six wonderful women we would be taking through Project Cultivate’s Professional Development Program, which seeks to equip survivors of sex-trafficking with skills to prepare for the workplace. On that first day, we presented a two and a half-hour module on self-identity, which delved into their Myers Briggs and Strengthsfinder results. We worked to determine what areas of strength God had already naturally planted within them, and how they could actually identify those affirming talents and skills. We discussed how they could be utilized in a professional setting, and what types of goals and careers could fit into those strengths. It set the stage provided both a foundation to build upon and a vision of hope for the future.
For the next couple days, we completed the next modules, which included things like dressing/speaking/handling conflict professionally in the workplace. We also created professional email accounts, went over Microsoft Word, had them compile research into an Excel sheet and give an oral presentation on their findings- they did fantastic- and spent time building up their resumés, tailoring any work experience they had to showcase their strengths and skills. A few that would be leaving the safe house soon had resumés which they could use or easily build upon. On our last day, we all dressed up in business professional attire for our mock-interview day. We went over potential responses to tricky interview questions, and how they could highlight their strengths and build confidence in what they have to offer, which was both challenging and absolutely vital in working with women who had been so deeply exploited.
It was so powerful to walk alongside the women in developing their professional strengths. Ultimately, it was exhilarating to watch them develop a deeper hope in the idea that they will be able to get back out into the world and sustain themselves by pursuing things that they are passionate about. This can be desire to get a degree in computer science, or apply themselves in Disney college. So much was taken away from these incredible women. They were deprived of opportunities, time, security, confidence, courage, dignity, and worth. Through our time spent at the safe house, we got to briefly discuss several steps toward restoration by giving back to them what had been stripped away. At one point in their lives, they were without hope in their own dreams and aspirations. This is dehumanizing on the deepest level in light of the fact that every person was intricately and lovingly crafted for a purpose. I believe that the most humanizing thing one can do for a person is to empower them with the tools they need to seek after their own dream and purpose.
- Abby Rickett, PDP team lead