*Today’s blog is a survivor story from last year, shared during the 2022 16 Days of Freedom. While it isn’t a “new” story, I hope you’re moved to compassion by reading Clara’s* story. This is the genuine work our Survivor School does, and it’s important to highlight and celebrate the progress made by these strong and courageous women.
While many of us wish we could end modern slavery with a snap of our fingers and ‘free’ everyone trapped in those conditions, it may not feel possible. What would that look like? If people are taken out of slavery and left on their own, are they truly free? Or are they still impaired by the cyclical and systemic ramifications of living in slavery? Many survivors still have an abundance of battles to face after being removed from such a tightly structured life and being given a choice to do whatever they choose. The Freedom Hub prioritises short- and long-term rehabilitation and familiarisation of survivors into society.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Clara* weekly for our Australian Culture Classes and English lessons. From the beginning, Clara was beaming excited, yet understandably still quite shy and hesitant to speak English. However, as the weeks went on, I saw Clara gain more and more confidence with every lesson and interaction she had.
My favourite moment appears small on the surface but was so meaningful with context.
As one of our English lessons ended, Clara asked me if I could help her find something from the chemist the doctors recommended. So we went to the chemist together. We needed help to see what we were looking for, so a staff member offered assistance. Clara immediately stood behind me and was too afraid to say anything.
As I explained what we were after, the staff member gave Clara plenty of friendly smiles and included her in the conversation. Clara began to step out from behind me, then began to reply to her through me, and then started interacting fully on her own before being confident enough to say thank you and goodbye and skip up to the register. In this seemingly small interaction, I watched someone who was too nervous about speaking, feeling comfortable and confident enough to ask for help and look after themselves, start to gain that confidence.
“We don’t know what to do a lot, and it is hard to go places and talk to people. So we stay home a lot. We love coming to classes because it is the only time we get to relax, learn, and have fun.” – Clara.
This is everything we want to see shine through survivors as we help them be confident enough to be independent and live their lives.
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