When desperation is exploited

Sarah lived a modest life in Sri Lanka, caring for her ailing mother alongside her sister. Her father passed away, leaving the two sisters to shoulder the financial responsibilities of their family. While her sister worked in insurance, Sarah found employment in local clothing production factories. The meager earnings were insufficient to cover their mother’s escalating medical expenses, pushing Sarah to seek better opportunities.

Hope appeared in the guise of a job offer from Lesotho. A fellow Sri Lankan, now settled in Lesotho, described a managerial position at two Chinese stores in Mokhotlong. The job promised a significant pay raise, accommodations, and meals – a seemingly perfect solution to her financial woes. But the opportunity was false; she was lured away from everything she knew under pretenses.

A grim reality: exploited and trapped

With her hopes high, Sarah embarked on her journey to Lesotho, welcomed by formalities, including obtaining a work permit at the Labor Department. However, upon reaching her supposed place of employment, the reality differed starkly from what was promised.

Contrary to the managerial duties outlined in her contract, Sarah was coerced into menial tasks beyond the store’s confines, caring for her employer’s animals and maintaining his home. The job, which was supposed to secure her family’s financial future, became a trap. Her physical needs were ignored, and she was restricted to a single type of meal throughout her stay. Worse still, she was never compensated for her labor, with her employer claiming that all her earnings were to offset travel and accommodation costs he had incurred.

Breaking free

Isolation turned to fear when Sarah was barred from communicating with her family. Attempts to reach out led to physical assault, leaving her bruised and more trapped than ever. Her plight remained unnoticed until a routine inspection by the local police and labor officials flagged numerous violations at her workplace.

Even then, Sarah initially denied any mistreatment under her employer’s intimidation. The turning point came following an altercation where her employer falsely accused her of theft, leading to police involvement. This incident finally gave Sarah the courage to voice her ordeal. The police contacted us so we could begin to help Sarah heal and grow.

Healing with help

At the safe house, Sarah found more than just shelter. She received food, clothing, medical care, psychotherapy, legal counseling, and skills training, all instrumental in her gradual healing process. More importantly, she found a community that supported her through her recovery, helping her rebuild her life and restore her dignity.

Sarah is taking her case to court so that she and others like her may find a measure of justice and, one day, peace. She is unsure if she will return to her home country, but until the day comes that Sarah is living a whole, independent, and healthy life, we will be by her side to ensure she gets the skills, training, and resources needed to support herself and move on from her ordeal.

Every day, we are inspired by the survivors in our care. We are committed to continuing the fight so that we can help other survivors leave their abusive situations, heal and flourish, and prevent human trafficking before it even occurs. For every woman like Sarah, who was rescued, countless more need our help. Will you partner with us to ensure that no one else has to endure what Sarah did? Together, we can make a substantial difference in the lives of those at risk and build a future where human trafficking is no longer a shadow over our world.

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