Know My Name:Sarah Symons

Know My Name: Sarah Symons


Location: USA, Nepal, India

Know My Name: Sarah Symons
Know My Name: Sarah Symons
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WHO: When Sarah Symons, a TV and film songwriter, went to a film festival in New York see her song in the film Nola, the problem of human trafficking was the last thing on her mind. But she ended up seeing, The Day My God Died, a film profiling survivors who had turned the tables. They had created their own Underground Railroad, taking rescue agencies and police back into brothels to rescue other kids. Everything clicked when Sarah realized that survivors of trafficking are not victims—they are powerful untapped resources to combat slavery. When she met her husband for lunch later that day, she told him, “I just saw a film that changed my life!”

Know My Name: Sarah Symons

WHAT: Symons knew that people are vulnerable to trafficking because of the lack of economic opportunities. She wanted to help but knew that she faced a huge roadblock: How do you create a highly-skilled labor pool that can earn better than a living wage from a group of mostly illiterate, poor and traumatized people? In 2005, she founded Made By Survivors, a non-profit organization to provide employment and education to survivors so they would not be vulnerable to being re-trafficked. In the last two years alone, over 1000 survivors have received job training, education and housing. The MBS livelihood program was so successful that Symons and her husband established jewelry production centers and provide metal-smith training for trafficking survivors living in shelters in India. Hundreds of women and girls who were once enslaved, are now artisans and entrepreneurs. They design and produce jewelry made from precious metals and gems. The jewelry is sold nationwide through boutiques, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati, and the online store, Relevee.

RESULTS: MBS beneficiaries have done the unthinkable—they have broken the glass ceiling on India’s traditionally male-dominated profession of metal-smithing. MBS has trained over a hundred women in this field, and is employing the first ever cohort of female metal-smiths in India. They are so good at what they do that their wages benchmark at the level of a recent college grad in India. Sarah says, “Survivors of trafficking shouldn’t be defined by the terrible things that happened to them. We need to see them for the superheroes they really are—we all need to stand up against slavery.”

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