The Night Is Always Darker before the Dawn - a Story of Restored Hope for a Dignified Future

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Svitlana (name changed) dreamed of having a beauty salon since she was a schoolgirl.  She was full of plans and ideas, but could barely save enough to survive, let alone to start a business. To her, the hope that she might find help was only a useless delusion. Sitting in her studio now, she feels like a different person. 

“Back then, I had only myself to count on to make my dreams come true.” 

Unfortunately, her personal life offered little comfort. Fighting began between her and her husband soon after she had a new child. When it grew unbearable she fled to a rented apartment. 

“I had debts that I had no way to pay. My parents could not support me, and my ex-husband refused to help our child. I starved. I did not know how to manage my life.” 

Desperate, she left her child with her parents to look for work abroad. Vulnerable in a strange land, she became ensnared by human traffickers. She worked hard for four months to send money home, suffering humiliation, beatings, and sexual abuse.  In the end there was never any money.

Exhausted and sick, she returned home as poor as when she left.

“I could not believe I faced another failure. I could not believe that I fell for more lies.  I was sliding into an abyss of despair when my friend gave me the contact of a local NGO that helps people in similar situations.”  

When Svitlana came to the NGO she was in pain, mentally and physically. She had no faith that positive change would come to her life. But, guided by the professional counselors at the IOM Medical Rehabilitation Centre, she worked hard to face her pain and she slowly began to change. Svitlana’s condition began to improve and gradually, her faith and interest in life returned.

She began to make plans and to fulfil her childhood dream – to open her own beauty studio. IOM gave her the push she needed by offering to pay for some training classes. While she studied, she continued to attend group counselling, as much for the others there as for herself. Svitlana felt deeply for other women who had also survived domestic violence and human trafficking, and she tried to assist them whenever she could. 

Later on, Svitlana joined the IOM Micro-Enterprise Program and won a grant to buy some professional equipment to open her beauty studio. It was a success! Before long, she moved to a bigger building and hired an employee. 

Svitlana is more confident in herself and her future now. She restored her mental health, grew as a person, and became an entrepreneur. Now she has new, bigger dreams. She wants to create a social enterprise through her studio, where she can teach and employ women who suffered through abuse and violence. Svitlana has changed. This new Svitlana will tell you, “a successful person and manager is someone who does just think of how she can help others. She acts.”

Since 2004, USAID has supported IOM to help more than 4,500 victims of trafficking like Svitlana. If you or someone you know is being forced to work by violence or coercion, dial 527 to reach the free National Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline.