Submitted by Wendy Dailey | Co-founder & President of iSanctuary
International Sanctuary (iSanctuary) was founded in 2007 to empower victims of sex trafficking to rebuild their lives with economic opportunities. Purpose Jewelry, the iSanctuary fashion brand, is sold and distributed online, at home trunk shows, community events across the nation, and in over 150 boutiques internationally!
In 2007, Stephanie Pollaro founded iSanctuary after observing first-hand in Mumbai, India that traditional aftercare programs were rarely successful. iSanctuary was conceived to offer what was missing in the rescue ecosystem – an economic empowerment answer to aftercare. Wendy Dailey came on board in 2008 after observing sex trafficking while living in Cambodia, being confronted by the reality that girls, some as young as 5, were being sold into sexual slavery by their parents or stolen from their homes. The two young, 30-something social entrepreneurs grew the grassroots effort to what it is today: an international organization, on track to open 10 sanctuaries globally by 2020! Presently with sanctuaries in Mumbai, India and Irvine, CA, with Uganda opening up this year.
iSanctuary empowers women with the Purpose Jewelry job program as well as education, life skills, medical assistance, counseling, to rediscover their dignity and prepare them for a life-time of sustainable decision making.
Sana (name has been changed to keep anonymity) illustrates the beautiful transformation we aim for with the young women we serve. Kidnapped from her home in a poverty-stricken rural village in India by a neighbor when she was 12. He took her to Mumbai where he promised her a job in a restaurant. Instead she spent the first week in a Mumbai brothel being beaten, starved, and raped. Her spirit broken, she spent the next four years servicing as many as 30 men a day.
Sana was rescued in a raid, but after four years of such dehumanizing treatment there was emotional damage. She suffered post traumatic stress disorder. Her PTSD manifested as paralyzing fear and depression. Understandably, she trusted no one and felt worthless. She was referred to iSanctuary by local authorities, but only agreed to participate in our program because of the chance to make jewelry. At first Sana literally held back, working in a corner of the workroom away from the other participants. She kept to herself, but eagerly absorbed the lessons of jewelry making. She was soon making handfuls of beautiful earrings and proudly presenting them to her teachers. She moved out of the corner and into the center of the workroom to be among the sister community she was learning to trust.
One day she approached her teacher with her arm outstretched holding a pair of earrings she designed and made herself. The teacher had to ask who made them because the skill required was beyond that which she thought Sana capable. Sana explained that she had a new dream to become a jewelry designer.
Sana was brutally taught at a young age she didn’t have control. She didn’t have a voice. Her freedom to choose was stolen. At iSanctuary Sana is learning how to live in freedom, to embrace hope, and to make decisions that support her new identity as a stronger, wiser woman!
At iSanctuary we have great appreciation and admiration for Free the Slaves, and are honored to partner together. This month, you can support the mutual goal of Free the Slaves and Purpose Jewelry to support survivors by shopping the Purpose Collection. Be sure to use the code “FTS” and you’ll get 10 percent off your order. Plus, 10 percent of all purchases will be donated to FTS!
Editor’s note: Purpose is one of 12 ethical fashion brands that have teamed up with Free the Slaves in July for our 25 Days of Fashion Against Slavery summer campaign.