“I loved living in the shelter. It was so much fun. There was always something happening—cooking, games, talking, singing, watching movies. I loved having family style meals with the other women.”
Overwhelmed by low self-worth and shame, many new artisans struggle with accepting the love their community offers when they arrive at the shelter. The artisan community strategically invests countless resources into these young women who have been exploited through sex trafficking. Seen as real people with real hearts and minds, artisans are offered counseling to help them overcome the trauma of their pasts, as well as education and training to help them create possibilities for their futures. Many artisans, like Chang Chang, feel valued for the first time in their lives.
“So many staff members have poured into me and have helped me develop professionally and personally. I remember one time I was crying at the shelter, and multiple coworkers came and comforted me. I like the fact that people care about my heart.”
Through her artisan community, Chang Chang has discovered many encouraging truths about herself. She has discovered that she is now safe and secure. She has discovered that she is intelligent and capable. But surprisingly, her greatest discovery on her journey to becoming a skilled artisan and accomplished businesswoman is that she is loved.
“I have so many happy memories. I loved going on a business trip to help source materials with Jenny and our Production Director. We were busy meeting suppliers and purchasing materials, but they still took the time to celebrate my birthday and make me feel so special. There was so much food that we were not even able to finish all the dishes!”
The love her artisan community has engraved on her heart is engraved in everything Chang Chang has crafted as an artisan. From sorrow and shame to hope and dignity, Chang Chang’s journey has been more than a journey to freedom from sex slavery and sustainable income. It has been a journey to love.