Of our 16 graduates, all have received immigration relief as part of their enrollment in our program through our law partners, giving them the ability to gain employment in the United States.
This Thanksgiving I was able to spend the morning with some of our survivors at the Anaheim Redshield Thanksgiving lunch hosted by The Salvation Army in partnership withThe Cheesecake Factory. We take some of our clients each year, because we understand that the holidays can be lonely for our survivors without their families. This year, two of the attending survivors were experiencing their first Thanksgiving after leaving their trafficking situation. Anothervery special survivor reflected on how just one year ago on that day she had just entered our program and had a challenging time at this lunch because of all the trauma she has just left. But this year she is living independently and working full time while learning English as a second language and saving money to begin vocational school.
We have a great community of volunteers that has enabled us to implement monthly outings for our survivors living in our safe home shelter, the Guest House. This community has provided transportation and the funds needed to take our survivors whale watching, to Disneyland, beach trips, Angel's games, the Long Beach Aquarium and many more experiences that they would not have the resources to enjoy on their own.It is so exciting to be a part of someone?sfirst experience at Disneyland or their first time going whale watching!!
We have a very resilient and courageous survivor that has been in our program for quite some time. She has had to remain in hiding because her traffickers have been actively looking for her since she escaped. We have been fighting to legally change her identity so that she can begin a new life, with her child, and not fear that she will be found. This year she received a court order giving her a new name and identity. She no longer has to fear that she will be found by her traffickers and is safe. She and her child are stable, and for the first time in four years she is able to dream about a future.
Clients have been freed from their trafficking situations, found employment, emotional and physical health, learned English, studied, had legal needs met and learned how to advocate for their own needs. Still, many others continue to live in the midst of crisis, but with the support of the NETS-OC staff and our community partners, they will find the refuge and support so desperately needed.