Collective Shout calls out Corporate Offenders

During this holiday season, a grassroots campaign movement, Collective Shout, is calling out a number of corporate brands who are deemed offenders. This group has published a list of corporations that have objectified women and sexualized girls in their advertising and marketing during this past year. An example of one is a jewelry and accessories retail chain, Diva, which actually tops the list of offenders. Diva most recently was on the hot seat for selling Playboy branded products next to Winnie the Pooh and Disney princess necklaces which sparked a petition by Collective Shout on

To see the full list of brands, head to:


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Sunita: Our Angel (Part Two of Three)

The way Su and I were brought together is pretty amazing when you look back on the chess boards of our lives and see how many strategic moves had to be made to get us ready for our lives to intersect. Then when we finally got together we had to build iSanctuary and all those adventures played out like a combination of a comedy of errors and a coming of age movie rolled into one.

Su and my interest in aftercare started to converge long before we ever met each other.  And at the same time that I began talks with International Justice Mission (IJM) about economic self-sufficiency Sunita’s heart was moved to work with girls in aftercare and she began volunteer for IJM.  She enjoyed spending time sitting and talking with the girls in the government homes and began to pray that God would use her in a bigger way.

And so He did….

My idea to start a social enterprise to help the girls in aftercare homes earn money for their futures was met with great anticipation by IJM leadership.  When they asked me what I needed from IJM, I simply requested a translator and so Sunita was assigned to me.  Little did I know…Sunita barely knew English and had never translated before. Actually, it was only a couple years ago that Su revealed to me that she didn’t have a clue what I was saying for the first two weeks we taught together.  But through repetition, patience, and hard work Sunita not only learned English but she also learned how to make jewelry.

Sunita quickly grew from translator to assistant and from assistant to partner.  Her responsibilities were many and she took them on with a cheerful spirit.  With no previous experience in manufacturing, talking with vendors, or teaching Sunita performed her duties remarkably well.  Working side by side with me 6 days a week, slogging it out in the markets and searching for vendors that would take a young village girl and a white lady seriously was no small task.  In the exhausting heat, lugging kilos upon kilos on our backs through the crowded market

and then onto the trains was hard for us but we often found ourselves laughing at the absurdity of the scene.

(Oh, and I forgot to mention that at this point Sunita still hadn’t been released from her previous employment.  So Su was up early morning preparing tea, breakfast and lunch for the household and when Su got back from her day with me she had to do her housecleaning, their laundry, and prepare the dinner).

After a few months Sunita’s employer decided to move across the state and expected Sunita to accompany her.  Su, for the first time ever, had the opportunity to choose what she should do with her life.  Stay with the security of the familiar; even if it was a new town the work would be the same, the employer would be the same—life for all practical purposes would be the same. Or, take a chance on this crazy foreigner and the US-based organization which she is trying to start; which would mean she would have to leave the only home she ever knew in Mumbai, find a new home, and provide for herself. All of Sunita’s friends, even those in the anti-trafficking community, advised her against staying with iSanctuary, stating that iSanctuary wouldn’t last another six months.  Thankfully, for iSanctuary and the 150+ ladies we’ve helped, Sunita is a faithful and loyal person and she believed in what iSanctuary could do in the lives of rescued ladies including her own.

This decision to step out from the norm and into the world, led to many difficult obstacles and realizations about life that challenged the way Sunita saw others and the world.  She started to learn that she had opinions, likes and dislikes, and the right to take care of and stand up for herself.  Sunita has learned a lot about the human spirit and the harsh truths of life and uses these lessons every day as she talks and advises the iSanctuary staff.  Though she is not much older than the other women working for iSanctuary, Sunita’s experiences and how she has so wisely learned from them, makes her a mentor and a compassionate leader…A leader who sacrificed all for iSanctuary.


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Truth T.I.P. 2011

Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large at the Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons spoke about the fight against human trafficking, the United States stance, and the truth behind the T.I.P. (Trafficking in Persons report). The basis of this T.I.P. Report is to assess actions taken by governments around the world in working against trafficking of persons. The United States is also included in this report as Secretary Clinton stated, “we should hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold everyone else”. There are governments that are weak or nonexistent which provides an arena for victims to be even more at risk of modern slavery, there are governments that just go through the motions or even do nothing at all. In these societies, hope for victims is found in groups such as non-governmental organizations, international organizations, faith community and advocacy groups. Such groups are actually the front line in the battle against modern slavery and trafficking of peoples and thus, the tiers of each country is utilized to allocate funding. The turth behind this T.I.P. report is that it dictates American leadership around the world in the fight against human trafficking. “Human trafficking is a threat to our security and an offense to our most important values. But more importantly, as Secretary Clinton has said, “fighting slavery is part of who we are as a nation.” We have a responsibility to act against this crime. We must not—will not—shrink from that responsibility,” stated CdeBaca.

To learn more about the T.I.P. Report and human trafficking, please click on the link below:

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Sunita: Our Angel (Part One of Three)

Sunita, or Su, as we often call her, was born in a village several hours outside of Bombay.  Her family grows rice and keeps buffalos to support themselves.  Though you wouldn’t know by looking into Sunita’s soft and sparkly eyes, she is no stranger to hardship and struggle.  Life is difficult in the village. Sunita’s mother, Suman, had 12 children and Su is one of 5 children that survived.  Su was born healthy, but one day, when Su was about 6 months old, Su was left with her grandmother (Suman’s mother-in-law) while her mom was out working in the fields.  Unbeknownst to Suman, Su was left unattended for hours and hours, locked in the house.  When Suman returned, she found Su unconscious and on the verge of death.  Suman quickly picked her daughter up and started by foot on the 10 kilometer journey to the nearest hospital.  Su was hospitalized for 6 days where again she fought against abuse and neglect yet made a full recovery.

Like many village children Su worked alongside her mother helping to collect firewood, plant/harvest rice, carry water, and keep the home.  Somehow, in the midst of this schedule, Su made time to go to school and enjoyed learning.  Life was a struggle but Su remembers those times of her youth as joyful;  the whole family in their one room hut living simply but together. Unfortunately, the family needed money and at age 9, Su was sent to the city to be a domestic servant.  You can only imagine how scary it was for this little 9 year old girl to leave her family and go alone to the city to live with a family that saw her as nothing but a servant.  She was so simple and innocent…she had never seen a fridge, a gas stove, or a toilet.   With no room for herself she had to wait until the family went to sleep and then she slept alone on the floor of the living room.  She learned to cook, clean, and care for the child of the house to her “employers” satisfaction.

At such a young age, her life transformed from wide-open rice fields and family togetherness to a solitary life in the constraints of an apartment 24 hours a day.  But you will never hear Su complain or speak badly of her “employer.” Instead she says, with a thankfulness so genuine it has to be true, that she is thankful to her employer because she allowed her to study and if it wasn’t for her she would never have been in the position to meet Stephanie and have the opportunities that she has today.  It takes a special individual to be so gracious, forgiving, and hope-filled.  And that is exactly who Sunita is.  The sweetest spirit, most generous heart, and the brightest smile…She is the reason iSanctuary exists.   And it is our hope that more women see themselves as worthy of great things, more valuable than the sum of their experiences or their background, stronger than they think and able to do immeasurably more than they can imagine.

That is why–For a girl, born in an Indian village, against the odds–with no birth certificate and no “proper” education– to go to AMERICA on a Business Visa for the organization that she helped create—this is such a big deal!!!


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Success at iSanctuary Santa Cruz

Debbie Dunton of Aptos, CA approached Dorene of iSanctuary Santa Cruz with her idea to host a girls luncheon jewelry party on behalf of iSanctuary. As word got out about the luncheon, the event turned into a fantastic awareness event fundraiser to benefit iSanctuary with about 125 guests in attendance.

Debbie and Dorene were a perfect team. Debbie worked tirelessly to ensure that the event was a success. She shopped and prepped with help from her amazing friends, children and husband to set up their home for the event. Dorene and a few remarkable volunteers set up the jewelry, decorations, iWalk, and a dark movie theatre. All of the volunteers made a difference by showing up and helping! We could not have done this without such valuable help.

Jeff Dunton shared his talent for floral arranging by transforming five big bundles of flowers and roses into 20 boquets. All of the flowers were donated by Obies Floral of Watsonville, CA. All 85 posters and banners for the iWalk were printed without cost by Mpress Digital Printers of Santa Cruz, CA. Palace Arts of Santa Cruz, CA donated $100.00 toward supplies and Bay Photo Lab of Santa Cruz, Ca donated 4 – 17×24 color prints mounted and sprayed. Local artist Rachel Nigh painted a gorgeous image of an Indian woman wrapped in peacock feathers just for this event so that it could be auctioned. The gorgeous painting was purchased by Christine Garbo. It was so much fun watching the suprise and screaming, crying, and laughing as Christine presented the painting to Debbie to honor her for her friendship and generosity.

The weather was perfect. There was no fog or wind and the sun was warm! The guests enjoyed music, great food, lots of shopping and most importantly education on iSanctuary and the current state of human trafficking. The event was success, bringing in over $3000 that will go toward benefitting iSanctuary survivor programs! Many thanks to all of you who came and made a difference with your Purchase with Purpose.

You can view the photos of iSanctuary at Debbie Dunton’s by clicking here.

iSanctuary Santa Cruz will be set up in Monschke Hall at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, Ca November 8th, 9th, and 10th. The iWalk (a self guided visual tour of Human Trafficking) will also be on display. Please contact Dorene Dawson for shopping times as they vary. 831-901-2857

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Rewards of giving back

Volunteering is a great way for an individual to get invovled in their community and is a rewarding experience to help others and grow personally too. But in addition to this, volunteering is a great way to network and moreover, learn and hone important skills such as leadership skills, organizational skills, and skills on motivating teams. This rewarding experience adds to your resume, but volunteering shouldn’t only be about gaining potential career opportunities. Always make sure you are professional, reliable and effective because you never know who someone knows and when a new possibility may come up, so expand your horizons and consider volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about.

To read more about this, please click on the link below:

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Fall Fling Event!

On Saturday, October 22nd, iSanctuary and A Place of Our Own will be holding our Fall Fling event! The event will be running from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM and will be a fun evening of live music, appetizers, and of course, an opportunity to Purchase with Purpose. This will be a great time for all and a good chance to start on your Christmas shopping list early. iSanctuary will be featuring our new fall jewelry line, holiday ornaments, Tori Higa Stationery and Sari Bari Bags which are all hand-made by survivors of human trafficking. Please come down and join us!
A Place of Our Own at the Shops at Arbor Village
10655 Los Alamitos blvd.
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

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