CEO & Executive Director, Free for Life International
Board Member/Scholarship Sub-Committee Chairperson, Free for Life International
While human trafficking has a massive global reach, its impact is felt most by the survivors who endure it. Victims of this exploitation experience:
- Deep trauma
- Mental health conditions such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder
- Difficulty making decisions
- Trouble navigating healthy boundaries and relationships
- Substance abuse
- Difficulty transitioning from their trafficking situation to “normal life.”
For these reasons, healing from trafficking is a long-term process. It requires individualized support and multi-faceted care.
One of the gaps Free for Life (FFLI) observed in anti-trafficking resources available to victims and survivors was assistance for those who have completed a rehabilitation program. To fill this urgent need, FFLI established its survivor scholarship to reduce barriers to higher education and vocational training. Education is one of the most sustainable ways to increase economic opportunity and protect survivors from revictimization. Still, many are ineligible for traditional scholarships due to past academic performance or possible criminal history related to their trafficking.
FFLI created a program to meet these specific challenges and build on survivors’ strengths. The scholarships are flexible and renewable -- our goal is to walk with recipients as they achieve their dreams. Another unique element of FFLI’s scholarship is that awards can be used for any higher education or vocational training program of a survivor’s choice, from welding to cyber-technology. Last year, FFLI introduced a mentorship component of the survivor scholarship. Recipients are paired with qualified mentors who provide academic and professional guidance. We want every recipient to have a solid foundation as they transition into their desired career field.
1. The role of educational support in survivor care and healing.
2. The power of a mentor to walk alongside a survivor.
3. How FFLI can partner with residential programs around the USA.