International Sanctuary, – iSanctuary – an Irvine-based nonprofit organization was founded by Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey in 2007 to help re-acclimate survivors to society after being rescued from the global slave trade. Human trafficking is the second largest, fastest growing criminal industry in the world, with 27 million victims worldwide and an annual profit of $32 billion, according to the 2012 U.S. State Department Trafficking In Persons Report.
iSanctuary was founded after Pollaro and Dailey learned of the gap between a survivor’s rescue from human trafficking and her reclamation to society. The founders said this gap is crucial in recognizing to fully recover a trafficked victim, given the trauma and lack in basic job skills she possesses, resulting from enslavement and unwillingly endured sexual exploitation.
ISanctuary began as a foundation providing means of self-sufficiency to human trafficking survivors in India by teaching them to make jewelry in order to build a new life for themselves. The organization sells jewelry that its survivors make and uses the profits to provide medical assistance, education, skills training, life skills, leadership opportunities, employment and financial stability to those in its vocational programs.
In addition, iSanctuary has built a system over the last several years to provide professional opportunities for survivors trafficked and rescued in the United States, where 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into per year, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
Partners including the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Community Service Programs, California Against Slavery and Network of Emergency Trafficking Services, Salvation Army bring survivors to iSanctuary where they gain professional training, computer skills, job history and references by working for the foundation, processing online sales of jewelry made in India, managing shipping and receiving, packaging, and planning events.
Pollaro said. “It’s not just the foundation that has evolved since our establishment – these young women mature through a beautiful transformation themselves, and it’s exciting to see them grow from the time they’re brought in, taking on responsibilities and going from learning to teaching within our foundation.”
“iSanctuary understands the process of going from a victim to a survivor,” said Sherri Harris, Project Director of Network of Emergency Trafficking Services, Salvation Army. “The organization helps survivors gain their last bit of independence needed so they can take care of themselves. Our survivors just completely blossom through iSanctuary – they come out stronger and more emotionally capable of handling life’s situations to interact with the community. They leave being able to make their own decisions in order to live the lives that they choose.”
Learn more at Melissa Grace Hoon’s Orange County Register article: iSanctuary raises awareness about human trafficking.