“This is my first job and I love my job. I learned a lot, they teach me everything, they want me to share my ideas, to share my opinions. They encourage us to ask questions, encourage us to keep learning, never stop learning. I really want to stay here forever.”
Esther is a star employee at Regenesys BPO in Cebu Philippines. She’s a fiercely devoted mother, aspiring leader and diligent accounting student. She’s also a survivor of sex trafficking.
Abused horrifically as a child by her own family members, Esther escaped her environment, only to land in a job advertised as a housemaid and nanny working for a middle aged expat. She was raped on her first day of the job then held by him against her will, trapped for two years of horror despite multiple attempts at running away. Four years after Esther escaped her trafficker with her five month old daughter, we met her in the boardroom of Regenesys BPO, a back office social enterprise headed up by husband and wife team Sam Dharmapala and Dr Mindy Gill. Esther feels valued and important at Regenesys, alongside her colleagues – other survivors and young people also at risk of trafficking.
“It’s like here, I feel very important, like wow. There are people who care for me, or who tell me that I am important.”
Additionally, through Sam and Mindy’s holistic wellbeing and transformation program called “Renewsiya”, Esther and her colleagues are able to overcome their traumas and be set up to win – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially.
You can read more about Esther’s story and many other survivors in Belinda Ramirez’s recently published coffee table book, Wildflowers. Through a combination of dignifying, raw and anonymous photography and narrative, Belinda shares the stories of 15 survivors, covering not only their harrowing experiences but also the firm hope they have for their futures, thanks to a number of key organisations combating trafficking on the ground across the justice ecosystem (prevention, rescue, education, rehabilitation, employment, prosecution and more). To order a copy of Wildflowers click here
Written by Belinda Ramirez PhD author of Wildflowers