In the early days of Project Mona's House, we received a phone call from a member of a human trafficking task force. The task force had someone who had been victimized by human trafficking. The individual was 22 years old, and had been beaten, was suffering from migraines and paranoia, and had constant night terrors. This force recognized the signs, and knew to contact Project Mona’s House.
We were able to bring this woman to Buffalo from another state. When she arrived at Mona's House, she was extremely timid. Little did we know that a funny and lively person would soon re-emerge. Our volunteers and team members wasted no time bringing her shopping, and getting to know her better. During this time, we were also able to help her sign up for health insurance, and get her in contact with appropriate resources.
Our team members quickly noticed that the woman didn’t have any form of identification, which is very common to see when working with victims and survivors of human trafficking. The woman explained that she had not had any type of identification since she was 16 years old. Our next step was to head to the DMV to get her a new ID.
The day that the physical license came in the mail, she was so thrilled. She told us that the thing she was most excited about was her identification, because it made her feel like she was somebody for the first time in years.
With her ID in hand, she began applying for jobs, and became more self-sufficient. She learned how to cook, started taking more steps to overcome trauma, and took her guard down as she gained trust. She also got help for controlling and managing her paranoia, which has allowed her to regain confidence.
We are so proud to say that the woman that we speak of will be moving out of Mona’s House in January 2021. She is moving into a small 2 bedroom home that she now owns. This woman went from victim to survivor to overcomer AND home owner.
Illustration by Meral Avdanli