“Gracie” was sitting in the waiting room of a cold and unfamiliar hospital, waiting for her rape kit to come back. She was under an immense amount of stress after what she had just undergone. With feelings of shock, she sat there alone, waiting for further instructions from the doctor. Due to COVID-19, the wait times for these results were taking longer than usual.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Gracie, along with nine other girls, was rescued during an operation in a region of South America from an American man who was sexually abusing them.
After the operation, the girls all dispersed to various locations. Some went to an aftercare home, some went home, and others went to the hospital for medical exams. Each survivor went to a different location based on their unique needs at the time of rescue.
Quickly after, the government reached out to O.U.R. to help assist in the aftercare of the survivors rescued in the operation. An O.U.R.-contracted social worker heard that Gracie had been waiting hours at the hospital completely alone and unfed. The social worker immediately went to a local pizza shop to order some food to bring with her to the hospital.
Upon entering the hospital, she found Gracie in the same chair she had been in all day. The social sat down beside her and offered her a slice.
Gracie was reserved at first but then began to speak about her story. After listening to her share, the social worker explained how O.U.R. could support her on her healing journey. As they built rapport, she spoke more in-depth about the educational programs, mental health support, and vocational training available to Gracie.
What began as a shared meal 30 minutes ago, was now an unexpected bridge to a friendship. Not only did it immediately meet the survivor’s need, but it unexpectedly began the relationship between the two.
When O.U.R. is asked to support survivors with aftercare, their immediate response will always be to provide any basic needs necessary. This is to ease the transition from being locked into a dark cycle of human trafficking, to being rescued and offered a new healing environment. Once their basic needs are met, and they've bonded with a team member, they are connected to the variety of short and long term support that O.U.R. offers.
We are so moved to hear of this moment between an O.U.R, contractor and Gracie. What may have seemed just like a shared meal, was the start of a friendship between the two and a pathway towards healing for Gracie.