All Marissa wanted was to support her daughter and granddaughter.
She came to the UK in search of work. And she did work in a factory, but in conditions of slavery. Abused, exhausted and afraid, she needed to get out, but, where would she go? And if she left the factory, how would she ever be able to send money home to her daughter – the money she was desperate for so they could pay their rent?
The answer to the first problem was Caritas Bakhita House. A safe place for women who have been trafficked or enslaved. At Bakhita House guests are not only made to feel safe, but they are given the support they need to set out on the road to recovery. Marissa arrived at Bakhita House, but could think of nothing but her little granddaughter, who might soon be living on the streets, while she, Marissa, was staying in this warm and welcoming home.
The answer to the second problem was the St John Southworth Crisis grant – a fund managed by Caritas Westminster with the intention of providing small but life changing sums of money to people struggling through a time of crisis. It was an unusual case, as grants are intended to support people living within the diocese of Westminster, but because of the link with Bakhita House, Marissa’s grant application was approved. The staff at Bakhita House made contact with the social services in her home country, to enable the transfer of money, so that Marissa’s daughter and granddaughter did not lose their home.
When asked how she felt about the grant, Marissa responded:
“ I am grateful for the help you gave me. The truth is, I felt very suffocated and you gave me air to breathe. Thank you for giving me a lifeguard in the middle of my sea of trouble. This helps me to have strength to move on. I am no longer afraid to face any circumstances that presents to me, because I feel stronger today. Thank you for believing in me. In truth angels are not in heaven they are here on earth.”
Now Marissa is gaining confidence and beginning the process of recovery from the trauma of her experience. Not only that, but she is also helping the Police with their enquiries into the factory where she was enslaved.
Due to this being an ongoing case, and out of respect for Marissa and all our guests at Bakhita House, we have changed the guest’s name and not included any personal details.