by Karen Anstiss
Bakhita House, the shelter for women rescued from human trafficking and slavery, has now been open for 18 months and I have 50 reasons for being grateful, proud and hopeful.
Grateful on behalf of the guests, staff, volunteers and myself because without the support of the Catholic Church, its donors (big and small) and our support network we would not be able to operate. We would not have helped 50 women who may otherwise have slipped through the cracks of our country’s systems and ended up back in their trafficking situation.
Proud of those 50 guests who have often conquered their own fears, pushed themselves to start on the path to a new life and, with support, become courageous enough to help the Police in their pursuit of their traffickers. No matter how small or large, each change in them makes me proud as if it were my own child winning an Olympic gold! A guest spoke on radio in December overcoming so many of her own personal issues to try and get a message across that may help others in situations such as her own.
I’m also proud of the staff and volunteers who work so hard to make sure the house runs as a home with love, respect, a sense of community and spirituality, valuing our ethos but always putting the guest at the heart of our work.
Hopeful that we can continue to help victims of trafficking and modern day slavery, and continue to build upon existing relationships with Police, St Marys University, doctors, solicitors, therapists and many more who all become part of the guests’ support network as they start rebuilding their lives. Hopeful that each guest leaves Bakhita House with certainty of a better life and the knowledge she is actually cared for in this world.
So my 50 reasons for being grateful, proud and hopeful are 50 very individual women from 24 countries, aged between 17 and 66, whom, until they walked through the door of Bakhita House, I did not know. Women who I could never be as dignified, resilient or as courageous as. Who have shown me how important it is to fight injustice and live life to the full. All of which we can achieve together working as a team at Bakhita House.
To find out more about the work of Bakhita House, click here.