I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I walked into the bright cafe to meet the Day 46 trainees, all survivors of trafficking. Though I’ve been a trainer and facilitator for many years, I noticed I was nervous. This was different. Smaller, closer, more real. And I’d not worked with women who’d been trafficked before, though I’d read the horrifying statistics about growing levels of trafficking around the world today.
Now it became real to me – and the statistics became faces. Beautiful faces. We poured tea and more women came in and sat with us in our circle in the middle of the room. Most of them knew each other which helped. We were to spend eight weeks together: learning, laughing, growing in confidence and ability.
As the programme progressed, we took the women though carefully planned activities to identify goals, build confidence and move into employment training. They worked hard and they loved it. And to my surprise, so did I.
Somehow the lines became blurred and I wasn’t just a trainer… I was a participant, learning hidden strengths of resilience, adaptation and sheer determination. We all became learners. Women helping women, standing together. I remember the words of one of our participants Jayde*, a small strong and determined young woman. “We’ve all been through so much. But now I only look forward. Anything is possible and I’m excited about the future.”
By Theo Hannides
*False name given for safeguarding purposes