Last week, doma International finished up a 10-day fundraising campaign. In light of that, I thought I would take a moment to talk about why I choose to support doma specifically. There are a ton of great organizations that fight to end human trafficking in all its hideous forms, even quite a few based here in my hometown like doma is. So why is it that I focus my efforts on giving my time, money, and talent toward the work they are doing?
To me, doma International is the total package in the nonprofit world when it comes to fighting human trafficking, because they understand that the problem begins long before a woman ends up in a courtroom with a soliciting charge slapped onto her record. Its about much more than that.
It’s about a journey.
Their primary connection in the US is to support the ladies who are part of the CATCH program, a special docket court here in Columbus that helps formerly prostituted women regain their lives through a 2-year rehabilitation and training program. Instead of simply incarcerating women who have been prostituted (and thereby ignoring the systemic problems that brought them there in the first place) CATCH focuses on teaching skills for restoring their life and ways to overcome the awful circumstances they’ve endured, so they can become the women they were meant to be.
Doma has come alongside these women from the first moment they enter the CATCH program. Their staff and volunteers step with them through this journey from those first nights when they are waiting in jail, just daring to hope that their lives could change, all the way through to independence when these women find a job, get their own apartment, and regain custody of their children. Doma helps take them from victim to survivor; from being the lost and brushed-off people on the fringe of our society to becoming the beautiful, strong women…daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends…they were created to be.
The staff and volunteers at doma understand that it’s not just about rescuing one woman from a terrible life, although that in itself is a good thing. But its more about the layers and layers of change that are necessary to revamp the systems that keep children from becoming vulnerable to traffickers, then growing up and repeating cycles of trauma. Doma is about changing a family tree, a city, and the entire world— Which can all start by helping one woman understand her true worth and her strength.
If all that is a bit too fluffy-sounding for you, let me share this: For the past couple of weeks, I’ve visited CATCH court. I’ve sat there listening, with pen in hand, recording things that the ladies have said about themselves and about the program. Here are some snapshots:
I don’t know where I’d be without the people in this courtroom.
It changed the way I carried myself and how I think about myself.
I’ve learned to love myself again.
I’m able to be there for my family, and I wasn’t able to before.
I feel like I am somebody, not just some woman on the street. I feel like a real mother.
I wasn’t judged.
I like myself again.
I am feeling blessed….grateful….determined…hopeful….like I have peace….proud….comfortable in my own skin.
I thank God for this program.
The people in this room have moved mountains for me.
I’m stickin’ and stayin’.
I have serenity.
I’m taking my GED test today.
I got to spend my son’s birthday with him this year. These are moments I never thought I’d get to have.
Grace is all over us.
It feels good actually doing something and being respected.
Nothing I’ve ever done in my life is like being here.
I may not have seen God himself, but I’ve seen his work. It’s all around us, in all of us.
I want to do something different. I need help. I can’t do it on my own.
I am capable. I’m going to do this.
I’ve come so far.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
These beautiful statements are concrete evidence of new life. They wouldn’t be possible without doma supporting the CATCH program, and they couldn’t do their work without generous people supporting them with time and resources. They rely mostly on donations and the occasional grant. They really make a little go a long way.
My family chooses to support doma because they take the full journey with these women. I recall one survivor saying that when she first met the staff at doma, they told her they were going to come along side her and love her until she could love herself. And that’s exactly what they did. Just a few years later, that same survivor is now a thriving, confident woman who mentors other ladies and speaks publicly about her journey in order to inspire others to action.
Isn’t that a journey you’d be proud to be a part of?
Doma’s recent fundraising campaign just ended. But the love doesn’t have to. Could we give up that Starbucks coffee, one round at the golf course, or our Friday night pizza in order to donate to restoring lives right here in our back yard? It is more than worth it!
Donate anytime to doma International! Show the love. Fund some freedom!
(Oh, and I didn’t even mention that doma operates a food cart and catering business to give these lovely survivors hands-on job training, or the incredible work they do overseas in Ethiopia and Russia! Take some time to browse their site and learn more about ALL of the amazing things they do to empower women and embrace children here and around the world!)