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At iSanctuary we are in the business of making hope tangible.  However, as of late, I have been realizing that if we were to quantify our efforts and successes into “proper” business terms, our Profit & Loss Report would be quite skewed and our Return on Investment wouldn’t be anything too impressive either.  But anyone getting into the business of pedaling hope–who thought it would be a “get rich quick scheme”–didn’t do their market research–and there are a lot of them out there!

Read WMF founders plea

In the sensitive world of aftercare, the obstacles to success are numerous, the stakes are high and consumer confidence is low.  Therefore it is vital for anyone in the anti-trafficking world to remain steadfast, consistent and honorable.  And only after we have proven ourselves to be trustworthy and acting in love will we be able to share hope in a way that our girls can understand.   We must live out what we believe! Words are meaningless to these girls; they have heard the sweetest lies and the most hurtful truths.  There is something to be said about action speaking louder than words.

Getting our primary consumer (the girls we serve) to grasp hold of the hope that we share with them has been our biggest struggle.  Freedom isn’t achieved with a rescue–it takes years of recovery for a girl to believe that she is more than the sum of her “story.”  At iSanctuary we try to make hope tangible by building upon every success and learning from every mistake.   We push our participants to levels that they didn’t think possible. For example, they must demonstrate high levels of skill before they can begin mass producing for iSanctuary.  Once they achieve that skill level we push them to increase their speed.  Before you know it, they are creating something extremely beautiful and earning their own money at the same time.  This simple process helps iSanctuary reach its production goals but more importantly, this benchmark proves to the girls that they can do much more than they first thought.  Once their potential in this area is realized, we apply the same principle to other aspects of their life such as education and creating a better future.  And when they doubt themselves we have tangible examples of how they have already achieved goals they didn’t think were possible!  This is what makes hope easier to grasp.

In short, the business of making hope tangible is not some sort of day trading adventure.  This is a long term investment that involves capitalizing  on each small incremental movement towards hope with continued investment in each girl until the goal of making hope tangible in her life is realized. I can’t think of a better investment!!!


Stephanie Pollaro, Founder and President, iSanctuary

Stephanie Pollaro’s passion for empowering women and children suffering in the bonds of sexual slavery was born from a magazine article that she read in May 2003. The article outlined the brutality of human sex trafficking in India and around the world. After several short trips to India and a one-year volunteer stint with an Indian NGO in Andhra Pradesh that served women and girls in red light districts, Stephanie was struck by the need to provide skills training and employment alternatives for young women rescued from forced commercial sexual exploitation.

International Sanctuary is the realization of Stephanie’s dream to create a business that helps those freed from enslavement to sustain themselves with marketable artisan skills. Originally a California resident, Stephanie has lived in Mumbai, India since 2006, where she works with young women ages 14-25 rescued from commercial sexual exploitation; establishing a sanctuary center is where trafficking survivors come on a daily basis to learn the art of jewelry-making. In addition to driving International Sanctuary’s strategic direction as president, Stephanie is responsible for providing much of the first-person care and training to the girls who participate in iSanctuary’s programs.

Stephanie holds a Master’s degree in Counseling from California State University Long Beach, and was selected as one of OC Metro Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 Business Entrepreneurs of 2009.” It is Stephanie’s objective to see girls living lives free of bondage and full of hope.



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Twitter: @isanctuary