Meet Janice! Get to know our staff who are restoring lives on the frontlines in the Philippines.
Janice is Deputy Director of 10ThousandWindows in the Philippines
Q: What motivates you in your work? A: I am motivated knowing that the impact of our work in every survivor’s life can affect future generations. Their children and grandchildren have hope in telling a different story, living a life that is not haunted by fear and trauma.
Q: How do you help restore the lives of victims of modern slavery? A: I help restore survivors by genuinely listening to them and treating them with dignity. During the early years of my work, I had the privilege of directly providing client services like soft-skills training and connecting survivors to scholarships and job referrals. Now, as part of the Leadership Team, I ensure client voice is taken into account when we make program decisions, and that staff are equipped to respond to client needs.
Q: What about your work has been the most fulfilling? A: The most fulfilling part of my work is seeing our clients achieve a level of economic empowerment like having a stable job and thriving in their chosen careers. One of our former clients is now the Work Immersion Program Coordinator and I supervise her. She graduated cum laude with a 10ThousandWindows scholarship and is now a registered social worker. I am so proud of what she has accomplished and how passionate and professional she is in her work.
As a child, Natalie was a victim of abuse. Today, she harnesses the power of her own story to help others who have suffered from human trafficking, violence, and exploitation as a social worker with 10ThousandWindows.
Natalie (not her real name) is the newest staff member to join 10ThousandWindows in the Philippines. After many years of being supported by 10ThousandWindows as a client in our education program, she now works directly with survivors as a social worker.
Natalie grew up in Manila, which is one of the biggest cities in the world and the sprawling, traffic-choked capital of the Philippines. Like millions of others in the country, Natalie’s family was desperately poor and struggled to survive.
Instead of her family being a source of calm and safety, Natalie’s mother became violent and abusive, and Natalie fled from home, seeking refuge in a local shelter.
But not long after she arrived at the shelter, Natalie faced an impossible situation. She couldn’t stay at the shelter forever, but she had nowhere else to go.
“Because my mother was the abuser, I couldn’t go home,” she says. “I was worried about who would pay my bills. There were times where I didn’t think I’d be able to surpass the hardships in my life.”
And so, like many other young Filipinos, Natalie chose to migrate within the Philippines to find work. She moved to Cebu, the second-largest city in the Philippines, and was introduced to 10ThousandWindows through a local NGO partner.
Because of her history of abuse and extreme vulnerability, Natalie was accepted into the 10ThousandWindows 12-week Skills Training and Empowerment Program. Her dream was to attend college and get a good job.
With the support of 10ThousandWindows, Natalie passed her college entrance examinations and was granted a scholarship to study at a university. She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work in 2015.
“Now I am a licensed social worker,” Natalie says. “10ThousandWindows helped me achieve my dream, helped me stay on track, kept me from being on the street.”
Natalie says her college degree has redirected her life and made a difference for her family.
“Now, I can support myself without any help from any NGO,” she says. “I can pay my bills and take care of myself. I am also helping my brother to finish high school, and I am planning to help him finish college.”
This fall, Natalie’s 10ThousandWindows career counselor suggested she apply for a social worker position with the organization. She jumped at the chance and was hired in October.
Natalie working at her desk in the 10ThousandWindows Philippines office.
As Natalie shares about the young women she serves at 10ThousandWindows, a solitary tear catches the corner of her eye, and her voice fills with emotion. She knows firsthand the challenges of overcoming abuse and forging a hopeful future.
“There were times before where I didn’t think I’d be able to surpass those hardships,” Natalie says. “But I’ve passed a milestone.
Every day at work, Natalie harnesses the power of her own experience to support and encourage other victims of violence and exploitation.
“I am in touch with survivors, directly connecting with them,” she says. “We aren’t just working. We are helping individuals who are in need. It’s really fulfilling being part of a client’s life – part of their journey to fulfill their dreams. When I see clients take one step at a time, when they are happy, it’s fulfilling.”
Natalie is thankful to be part of 10ThousandWindows.
“I used to be a client, now I’m part of the team,” she says. “It’s not just a job or a salary, it’s really working with clients and seeing their lives change. I can’t imagine my life without 10ThousandWindows.”
With your help, we’re giving more victims of modern slavery the skills, education and access to good jobs they need to stay free forever. Thank you!
Kristine* was just a few weeks away from finishing high school when she was sexually assaulted by a close family member.
As the world spun around her, Kristine felt shaken to the core. Her life was shattered.
Fearing further abuse, Kristine left home and sought refuge in a local women’s shelter. As questions about her future rolled through her mind, she felt hopeless.
What if she couldn’t heal from the trauma of the assault? Would that hold her back from getting a good job? Without a career, how would she ever be able to support her younger sister’s schooling and her mom’s medical bills?
A Glimmer of Hope
Kristine felt a glimmer of hope when a social worker introduced her to 10ThousandWindows.
“Little did I know that decision would open a lot of opportunities for me.”
Like all 10ThousandWindows survivors, Kristine started in the workplace skills program and worked with her Career Counselor to craft a plan for her future. Her counselor saw her aptitude for learning and her dream of gaining a college education and suggested she take college entrance exams.
Kristine thought about it and decided to go for it. She wanted to be trained to support other women who faced challenges just like she had.
“I realized that I have an innate passion for helping other people,” she said.
When Kristine received the results of her entrance exam, she was thrilled to see she had passed and was accepted into a social work program at her local university.
The Start of a New Life
Kristine’s first year of college was challenging, but the skills she learned at 10ThousandWindows helped her navigate a new learning environment.
“I applied the time management insights I learned from the soft-skills training on how to go about my exams,” she said.
Over the next four years as she pursued her college degree, Kristine often drew on the support of 10ThousandWindows staff and the workplace skills she learned.
It paid off.
In May this year, Kristine graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
During the years it took her to gain her degree, one moment stands out for Kristine with particular poignancy. One day during her social work practicum earlier this year, Kristine drafted client case studies and remembered vividly the time not so long ago where she had been the client talking about the future with her own social worker. Then, she found it impossible to believe her life could turn out differently.
“All these people who supported me throughout my journey gave me strength. It helped me to cope with my struggles and persevere in college,” she said.
Now, Kristine intends to pass the board exam for social workers and work for a non-profit organization.
“This is not the end, but just the beginning of my new life. I am happy and thankful for all the people who have helped me reach this point, my 10ThousandWindows family. Without a scholarship from 10ThousandWindows, I cannot imagine what my life would have become.”
Kristine is one of seven 10ThousandWindows survivors to graduate from college so far in 2019. Nineteen other survivors have graduated from high school this year.
A smile spreads across Daniel’s face as 10KW’s Education Program Manager awards him a scholarship for his fourth and final year of university. By the end of 2019, Daniel will graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, making him the first person in his family to attend and finish college.
Sonya, Daniel’s mother, sits on a wooden chair beside him in their living room. She looks like she might burst with pride. Her face, glowing with joy, lights up the entire room.
For a family that has seen, experienced, and suffered much, Daniel’s education is changing the course of their lives.
Life on the bare edges of poverty and vulnerability is hardly fair, but Sonya did her very best to provide for her children as a live-in housekeeper for other families. Daniel and his five siblings raised each other. They made meals, mobilized for school, and managed their home while their mom worked away.
When Daniel was a teenager, he heard about a good job in Manila. Like so many other young Filipino men, Daniel felt the weight of responsibility to care for his family and left home before he finished school, lured by the prospect of good wages.
But Daniel’s good fortune was too good to be true.
He was exploited at work and later was referred to 10KW for employment and education support. His dream was to get a university degree so he could help his family. His 10KW scholarship helped make that happen, though not without Daniel’s own commitment. During the first three years of his degree, Daniel woke up every morning at 4 to make it to his university classes on time.
Now, his degree is in sight.
A solitary tear catches at the corner of Sonya’s eye as she explains what this achievement means for her son, for her, and for their family.
But it’s obvious already in the decorative lace draped over the refrigerator, the tidy orderliness of their home, and in Daniel and Sonya’s faces lit with pride. Daniel’s scholarship is not just a scholarship. For this family, Daniel’s education has changed the course of their future. It’s enabled them to become financially secure, own their own home, and carry hope for their lives.
Daniel’s story is featured in the 10ThousandWindows 2018 Annual Report along with other victories, inspiring stories.
As Mahalia walks down the hallway to check in with her team at the local Philippines IT company where she works, light streams through the 10th-floor windows and all of Metro Cebu stretches out before her. Mahalia’s favorite part of her job is connecting with staff, asking how they are doing, how they are coping with the demands of work, what worries them.
“I really like managing people,” she says. “But not all people like me, who are victims, have their lives or journey turn out like this. I feel really blessed.”
As a teenager, Mahalia was lured into a trafficking situation where she was exploited and abused. She was referred to 10KW for economic empowerment support after spending time in a local women’s shelter.
But, as Mahalia discovered, simply being free from exploitation didn’t magically improve her life. With a young child to care for, she felt the weight of financial pressure and her experience of abuse casting a gloomy cloud.
“It was not easy at all,” Mahalia says. “I have neighbors that would make comments and judgments about me because I am a victim. If you do not learn to encourage yourself, you will start to look down and pity yourself, and believe what other people say.”
For Mahalia, as it is for most survivors of violence and exploitation, the road to true healing is often long and complex. In Mahalia’s case, there was no silver bullet that made the journey faster or easier.
“I challenged myself to overcome with the help of people who believed in me and encouraged me,” Mahalia says.
With the support of her 10KW Career Counselor, Mahalia made a personal career plan and gained relevant skill training for the job she has now.
“10KW helped me a lot to achieve my goals and reach where I am now,” she says. “I was able to change myself because of the choices I made. To change rather than to stay in the dark. I really can say that there is a good future ahead of me.”
Now, Mahalia is driven by a passion to help other women like herself. At home, Mahalia instills confidence and hope in her young child. At work, her motivation to see other trafficked women succeed, informs her leadership.
“Not all victims of trafficking are given the chance to know that there is time to change,” she says. “I told myself that I would become an asset to the organization, to show that change is possible to those people who have been trafficked. My goal is to tell victims of trafficking that there is still hope.”