As a child, Natalie was a victim of abuse. Today, she harnesses the power of her own story to help others who have suffered exploitation.
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 survivor in our education program, she now works directly with victims 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.
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!
You can help even more survivors like Natalie on their pathway to freedom. Become a Monthly Donor today.