LifeWay Network’s Event Towards New Life – Walking Together Towards Freedom was held on May 19, 2016, gathering almost 200 people together for an evening that included the presentation of our 2016 Freedom Award, remarks by our “Voice of Freedom” speaker, and the latest updates on LifeWay’s programs.
LifeWay Network’s 2016 Freedom Award
The Hon. Carolyn Maloney, New York Congresswoman, was the recipient of the 2016 LifeWay Network Freedom Award in acknowledgement of her leadership in championing the fight against human trafficking. Unfortunately Congresswoman Maloney was called out of the country the day of the event, but we were honored to have her New York Chief of Staff Minna R. Elias speak on her behalf.
Ms. Elias shared the Congresswoman’s efforts to bring an end to human trafficking due to her understanding of the inhumane suffering it imposes nationally and globally. The Congresswoman has championed many anti-trafficking legislative efforts, and is the founder and co-chair of the congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking.
Ms. Elias also applauded LifeWay Network’s efforts, and all those who support its work: “All of us can do our part, and you by being here tonight and supporting this wonderful organization are certainly doing your part. And what Sr. Joan and LifeWay are doing is really quite significant… providing haven for women who have nowhere else to go and helping to ensure that they do not return to the brutal world they left. LifeWay has also educated more than 10,000 people so they know and are able to address this problem.”
A Voice of Freedom
Shandra Woworuntu, a survivor of human trafficking who is now active in the fight against modern-day slavery, shared her story.
College-educated and working as a financial analyst in Indonesia, her wages were low and she was seeking a better life for her daughter. She acquired what was promised as a hotel job in Chicago, but was trafficked when she arrived at JFK. She emphasized how critical LifeWay Network’s efforts are, telling us there was no help available for her when she escaped her traffickers right here in New York City, and spent many nights homeless and on the street.
Shandra is a passionate advocate working against human trafficking. She was involved with the introduction of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act that has been passed by the US Congress, and has been appointed by President Obama to the first United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.
Expansion of LifeWay Network Programs and Services
Sr. Joan Dawber, Founder and Executive Director of LifeWay Network, shared the latest news on the expansion of programs and services during the past year:
- Since its beginnings in 2007, the Education Program has reached over 10,000 people raising awareness about human trafficking, and in 2015 alone provided 43 education presentations.
- LifeWay’s Safe Housing for women survivors of human trafficking saw almost a threefold increase in capacity over the last months. Early in 2015, the program provided seven beds. With the opening of Aspire Home and LifeWay House 2 since then, the program now provides over 20 beds for survivors.
- Sr. Joan shared that LifeWay is assessing the feasibility of establishing a Community Living Program to assist women with housing and a financial saving program for additional months after leaving LifeWay House as they continue their journey to independence.
Each of the speakers expressed their gratitude to everyone present for their commitment to anti-trafficking efforts, and for their support that makes LifeWay’s work possible.
Enjoy the photo gallery below: