January 29, 2023
Meaningful Engagement of People With Lived Experience: January 25 Launch Panel Discussion
Chris: [00:00:11] We’re going to give it a moment for all of our webinar attendees to get into the room. Okay, so here we go. Thanks you all for coming. Before we begin, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that we’re now joining together on the ancestral lands of the Anacostans and in the neighboring Piscataway and Pamunkey people. We’re sitting here today as individuals who are parts of systems and structures, government systems, funding structures. (turns podium) Well, they’re all on that side of the room. (laughter) So government systems, funding structures, nonprofit and global development structures. And those systems and structures are built on a legacy that disregarded and disrupted the relational care that those people provided each other and the land. And since our event today is being shared digitally to the Internet. (Speaker remembers to take mask off!).
Chris: [00:01:19] Since our event today is being shared digitally to the Internet, I’d like to also borrow the words of Adrian Wong and invite us to consider the legacy of colonization embedded within the structures, systems and ways of thinking that we use every day. We’re using equipment and high-speed Internet technologies that are not available in many indigenous communities. And even the technologies that are central to much of our everyday work contribute to changing climates that disproportionately affect indigenous peoples and communities worldwide and that often rely on hidden, exploited labor. I’d like to invite you to join me in acknowledging all of this, as well as our shared responsibility to make good of this time we have together, and for each of us to consider our roles in reconciliation, decolonization, reimagining our systems, and allyship.
Chris: [00:02:18] And on behalf of the Global Fund to end Modern Slavery and the National Survivor Network, I’m delighted to welcome you here. Thank you very, very much to our staff who have worked so hard to make this event happen for us today. They have done wonderful work – worked very hard. Thank you to our NSN Contractors and GFEMS’s lived experience committee for the conversations that guided this work, to the GFEMS Board for their support throughout this undertaking. For our National Survivor Network members… For those of you that aren’t familiar, the NSN is a program of Cast, and we also thank Cast’s leadership for their ongoing support as we rethink what survivor leadership means.
Chris: [00:03:08] To our partners and shareholders in this work who chose to take time to join us here today. I know it’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month and you all have 8 million things you’ve all been going to. We’re almost there, y’all. Go, team! We can do this. But we’re grateful that you’re choosing to share your valuable time with us. We know that not everybody was able to join us right at the start in person or online. But for those of you here with us now, we want to acknowledge and thank you for joining from so many of our funding organizations, national stakeholders, survivor-led organizations, lived experience leaders, and many different government offices. Seeing your organizations represented among our in-person registrations was encouraging to our team as people with lived experience who are organizing in this work. We are honored to have each of you walking with us, and we’re grateful for your partnership.
Chris: [00:04:07] Before I dive too much into the products and the conversation that we’re hoping to launch today, I wanted to name the elephant in the room. At least it’s the elephant in my room, as a US citizen, raised in a Western culture, doing work that many people in other parts of the world are going to see. The National Survivor Network is a US-based network doing US-focused work. The Global Fund and Modern Slavery is an organization whose work focuses on improving conditions and ending trafficking primarily in the Global South. We’ve taken steps to ensure that our process in creating the products you’ll see today included diverse perspectives and broad usefulness. It was informed by many GFEMS staff and NSN members and then co authored by a brilliant Kenyan organizer, activist and changemaker, and an American Southerner whose work has also bridged activism, advocacy and movement work. And I was grateful for the times when Sophie called me in on my Western biases and assumptions. We hope that what we have created will be useful broadly. And we also know that every region and culture will have its own unique ways of organizing for meaningful change. Please consider this work and what we’re introducing to you today to be the starting point of a deeper conversation rather than a destination in itself.
Chris: [00:05:41] Throughout history, impacted people have taken care of each other. In the US, enslaved Africans organized for mutual support and assisted each other in gaining their freedom. Those who gained their freedom formed Black benevolent societies, such as the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief Bounty and Pension Association, to help people re-establish economic and community stability after the violence of chattel slavery. Similar organizing has happened among workers since the 18th century, and these pre-union and union labor organizers have always included components of building economic stability, fostering worker wellness, and advocating for rights and change. While the first official rape Crisis Center didn’t open in the United States until the 1970s, people impacted by sexual and partner violence have always been organizing and supporting each other informally. Racial justice advocates keenly aware of the way sexual violence has been weaponized against black women and black men, have prioritized this work as well. In fact, before she ever refused to give up her seat on a bus Rosa Parks was a sexual assault investigator for the NAACP, fighting for justice for Recy Taylor and other survivors who, like herself, had endured sexual violence.
Chris: [00:07:09] This is what those of us who have lived experience of violence and exploitation do, and survivors of human trafficking are no different. We have been organizing to take care of each other, to support each other, and to fight for each other’s rights since before there was a legal definition for human trafficking and a lot of that has been unpaid, unrecognized, quiet labor done between people holding each other in compassion and confidence without flashy impact reports or media launches. Sophie and I have each done this work, and we know that many of you have as well.
Chris: [00:07:48] Survivors have been the organizers of this movement from the earliest days of indigenous uprisings against colonization to slave rebellions, from mutual aid societies to the way migrant communities take care of each other in often-hostile environments. With many movements, their advocacy led to the creation of a sector to support the movement’s work. The sector includes things like government agencies, NGOs, businesses that are advocating for social change. And most sectors that emerged from social movements took their direction from the movement leadership.
Chris: [00:08:26] In the US, the NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, emerged out of the many, many years of organizing among formerly enslaved people. Although its first official leaders were white allies and abolitionists, it took 20 years for the NAACP to have its first African American “executive secretary,” which is an executive director. When the US Commission on Civil Rights was established in 1957, almost all of the commissioners were white men. The first two chairs of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were also white men. Clearly, it’s not unheard of for the sector to need a reset to make space for lived experience from the movement.
Chris: [00:09:16] Across the world, the US is seen as a leader in human trafficking survivor leadership and we do have so many things to be proud of.
Chris: [00:09:26] The establishment of the US Advisory Council on Human Trafficking in 2015 has ensured that people with lived experience have opportunities to provide guidance on federal policy. I happen to know we have at least one present member of that council in this room. Do we have any other past or present members who’d like to be recognized? We’ll give you a round of applause then. The development of the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Fellowship gave people with lived experience opportunities to develop professional skills while creating meaningful recommendations for a wide range of programmatic approaches. Do we have any fellows, people who’ve done the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy? Yes!
Chris: [00:10:17] And the National Survivor Network’s policy advocacy has been impactful. It was, in fact, our advocacy that led to the introduction and development of the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, which we hope will become law this year. And if there are any members of the NSN who also want to be acknowledged while we’re here, we’d love for you to let us. I’m guarding my face so I don’t make eye contact and out anybody. (laughter) All right. We do have a few of us in here. That tricky thing about not knowing who wants to be out, You know, like guard your face. So.
Chris: [00:10:52] And more and more organizations are recognizing the importance of survivor leadership, bringing on consultants with lived experience of trafficking or survivor advisory councils to review policies, materials, guidelines, strategies and those survivor leaders. They’re fierce advocates for other survivors, and they’ve also often had to fiercely advocate for their own place at the table. Their dedication has paved the road for me and others like me to be here today, advocating for all of us to take the next steps towards meaningful survivor engagement in anti-trafficking work.
Chris: [00:11:30] People with lived experience have been creatively organizing to support each other for as long as exploitation has been recognized. And this grassroots survivor led work is often underfunded and unsupported. Many grassroots initiatives are doing brilliant work, but with too many barriers to funding and sustainability. This is at least in part due to the lack of survivors in leadership in the sector. Painfully few of our policymakers, legislators, funders, executive directors, program managers and researchers themselves have lived experience of trafficking. Many lived experience leaders struggle to find sufficient consulting gigs to make a livable income, and very few of us have accessed full-time jobs in our sector that offer supportive employment benefits and a reasonable degree of career mobility. Many survivors, particularly consultants, are asked, expected, or required to share their personal trauma narratives in their sector work in ways that our colleagues are not. And we often find that once we share our stories, it impacts our ability to be seen as full professionals in our work moving forward. Many of us have reported that our economic security for ourselves is directly related and tied to the level of sensationalism we are willing to engage in our work and the degree to which our narratives conform to those of the organizations paying us. And lack of access to economic security in this work puts us into positions of competition with other survivors rather than solidarity. This is part of the problem of a consultant model of survivor engagement rather than an integrated holistic approach.
Chris: [00:13:20] Our current model is unsustainable for the vast majority of us, and the degrees of burnout and re traumatization are high, not because hearing about other people’s trauma is too much or we aren’t healed enough, but because these sector norms are themselves traumatizing and being singled out among our fellow professionals for tokenizing treatment is emotionally draining. People with lived experience of human trafficking are closest to the problems. We have insights others do not. Our proximity to the issue means we best understand the solutions. And when we are able to work in synergy with each other and in equitable collaboration with the allies among our colleagues, we can develop policies, programs and research priorities that will get us closer to our shared goal of ending human trafficking.
Chris: [00:14:12] This requires an investment of resources, time and support.
Chris: [00:14:17] In the US, the Justice Department announced $90 million for combating human trafficking last year. And that’s just the Justice Department. And with that money, we’re doing transformative work to support survivors, engage communities and provide healing services.
Chris: [00:14:34] And yet every survivor in this room or joining us online today has at one point or another received a desperate text or DM from other survivors trying to resource support for survivors who can’t find services that they need. Survivor leaders have crowdfunded hotel and travel costs for other survivors in crisis when the formal agencies were not able to meet their needs. We’ve done this on our Venmo and on our Facebook pages to support each other. Survivor leaders have stood in the gap when we hear of other survivors who lost their entire support network and survivor mentorship programs when they no longer fit the “perfect victim” narrative. Survivor leaders have PayPal’d other survivors money for food, rent, or medical expenses when systems have failed us.
Chris: [00:15:27] And this freelance and unpaid labor and economic support that we are doing for each other isn’t just limited to victims leaving their trafficking situation or recently out of it. We’ve loaned each other gas money to get home from public speaking work when organizations didn’t cover our travel expenses up front. We’ve CashApp’d each other grocery money when a fellow survivor leader was waiting for contract reimbursements that were taking forever for their consulting work. We’ve provided hours and hours of unpaid emotional support for other survivor leaders struggling with mistreatment by organizations and advocates that they were compelled to work with in order to get their income and maintain their economic stability.
Chris: [00:16:13] These grassroots and collective acts of mutual aid are beautiful examples of solidarity and compassion and generosity of spirit. But also why? We have to ask ourselves why this is even necessary? And we have to commit to addressing the gaps that make this as common as it is.
Chris: [00:16:35] While our community and collective efforts of mutual aid will never go away, and nor should they. I think we all have to ask ourselves how much better our systems could be at meeting the long-term needs of people impacted by trafficking if they were part of our work at every level and every stage of the process, not just as consultants or advisers, but as our executive leaders, clinicians, and program managers. And if the perception is that they aren’t healed enough to do this work when they want to, what does that say about the kinds of services we’re offering them?
Chris: [00:17:12] Imagine what things would be like if we genuinely invested in survivors. If we made sure that our services to people with lived experience didn’t stop once they were no longer in immediate crisis, but that we provided continual investment in their long term economic and social stability… What if we quit thinking about individual solutions to systemic and structural problems and instead looked at how we can support the wellness of the collective and the righting of historic wrongs? If we focused on preventive transformation of harmful social norms, if we eradicated poverty and homelessness, if we prioritized safer routes from migration, reduced colonialist or imperialist approaches to global development?
Chris: [00:18:04] Adrienne Maree Brown said that all organizing for social justice is science fiction because we are imagining a world we have not yet seen. Can you imagine that world with this? A world where every trafficking survivor has their long term needs met, or better yet, where trafficking doesn’t even happen?
Chris: [00:18:24] This partnership between the National Survivor Network and the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery emerged out of the visionary imagination of not just me and Sophie, but of all the survivors who have touched our lives, shared their stories with us and allowed us to be witness to their brilliance. Together, we are envisioning and revisioning what meaningful survivor engagement means and what it looks like in practice. We are here today to share new frameworks with you, frameworks that break down what we believe it will take to get us to a place where our movement and sector are aligned with each other, where there is no shortage of survivor leadership in our sector, and where funders enthusiastically support the kinds of research programs and projects that will help us make this futuristic vision a reality.
Chris: [00:19:16] It won’t be easy. This won’t happen overnight. The toolkit we’re going to share with you today lists five levels of survivor engagement. And I’m fairly certain that any organization who honestly and self reflectively takes this assessment will find that they’re at the first level. But that’s okay. That’s where all good journeys start – with the first step. And I’d like to invite each of you here with us today to take that step with us. Join us on that journey.
Chris: [00:19:45] And now I would love to turn it over to Sophie Otiende – incredible activist and advocate, visionary movement leader, genuinely kind person and the CEO of the Global Fund End Modern Slavery.
Sophie: [00:20:12] How do you follow that? Thank you so much, Chris. Thank you much, everyone. It is such a pleasure to see our friends, colleagues, and above all, my community of Survivor leaders who always show up when I ask them to show up. And some of the things that Chris is saying, Uh, just make me emotional right? I begin by saying where Chris stopped I’m basically saying… (audio is unsteady). Can you hear me? Oh. Okay. That’s better. So I wanted to start by saying, just to follow up, My name is Sophie, and I’m the CEO of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery for those who don’t know. Most of the time when survivor leaders speak, there’s an assumption that we speak from our wound, which means that we are still bleeding, we are still crying, and we need support when most of the time we are speaking from our scars, which is a different conversation. When you are speaking from your wound and when you are speaking from your scars are different conversations. When you are speaking from your scars, you are speaking in reflection. The lessons you’ve learned. When you’re speaking from your wound, you are basically still holding. Okay. Better? I like it. I’ll repeat.
Sophie: [00:22:21] Most of the time when survivor leaders speak, there’s an assumption that we speak from our wounds, especially in this space. There’s an assumption that we are still bleeding and that we still need to be coddled when in reality most of us speak from our scars, which is a place of reflection. It’s very different when you speak from your wounds and when you speak from your scars, and I think it’s really important for us to reflect on that and also reflect on whether we as a system, as a sector, or what we want to call ourselves, we have the ability to work with survivors, to get us to get us to a place where we have scars rather than wounds. There are a lot of conversations going on, especially around repair and coming together and healing.
Sophie: [00:23:13] And the problem with that is that we have the ability to wound each other, right, especially in the process of healing, in the process of trying to fix things. We wound each other, and I hope that we can be able to take the journey of really getting to a place where all of us, not just survivors, can be able to speak from a place of healing and reflection. So first of all, I’ll go to my notes.
Sophie: [00:23:41] I’d like to say thank you very much to Chris, and the National Survivor Network, who have been working with the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery team. I would like to highlight Grace who led the SLAC (Survivor Leaders and Allies Committee) team. Tasneem, Angela, and all of the team, Loubna, who are here, who really participated in the work.
Sophie: [00:24:09] This month is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. And there’s a lot (as we’ve said) – there’s a lot of work that is going on, and I truly hope that all of us are taking time to reflect on this issue and to really highlight it and amplify it in the ways that you…
Sophie: [00:24:28] I am so proud of the work that we’ve done in this time, especially with Chris and NSN. It’s been a long time. I took over as CEO last year in March and it’s really, really been amazing, the work that we’ve done together. We’ve learned together. We called each other out, we’ve asked questions and this is a journey that I ask other organizations to take.
Sophie: [00:24:56] Most organizations, when we talk about meaningful survivor inclusion, these are question of what do we do? What do we do and how do we do it? And part of the process for me when I took over at GFEMS was to actually do that process in action, to document it, to think about it, and to actually show that it can be done. So I truly hope that as people look at these tools, one of the things that is really important to us is that this is one way to do it. To truly think about meaningful survival inclusion practically, and then work on it. So I truly hope that as Chris and the team at work speak on the panel that you will think about it, you’ll look at the tools and you will see that this can be done practically. So I’ll begin with — that is just me starting out. I’ll talk about what we are trying to do as a fund. So… Sorry, Let me get my notes.
Sophie: [00:26:15] So. Most most of us know about the Global Fund and the journey of the Global Fund. And I think that when Jean and the board selected me to take over, one of the tasks that I was given was to do a reflection with the team at the work that we had done so far, the impact, the mistakes we’d done. I know that especially in the development sector, it’s really hard for us to admit when we don’t get things right. We are very quick to celebrate the things that we get right, and sometimes we are not always good at recognizing when we haven’t gotten things right. I would like to really thank the GFEMS squad for really being open, because I think this actually took some form of being open to say, take over and actually dissect this and think about it and reflect about it, which is a challenge that I actually put out to the sector that right now.
Sophie: [00:27:17] Look at our question. We are not saying tear things down, but we are saying we are at a very crucial moment in this sector. This issue is no longer on top of the list as it used to be, and if we don’t change the way we do things, I do not think that we are going to be able to address the issue of human trafficking. And the only way we can do this is by building a vibrant movement. And that vibrant movement cannot be built [easily] – It’s not a simple thing to do. It has to be done by people who are close to this issue. And the reality is we haven’t always been great at centering those people in the right way. And we cannot continue to do things the way we’ve been doing them. We really cannot continue to do things the way we’ve been doing them. All of us have seen the numbers. This issue is not… It’s escalating COVID 19 and all the issues that have come up have only made this issue worse.
Sophie: [00:28:20] It hasn’t made this issue better. And the people suffering are not those of us seated here right now — it’s other survivors that we haven’t reached. Right? The people who are going through oppression right now in this moment. And if we don’t work together to actually build a vibrant movement, I do not think that will be able to address this issue.
Sophie: [00:28:43] So the coming together and really putting in the work is not just for us, it’s for the people currently going through oppression. One of my favorite abolitionist and writers idea, Saidiya Hartman, talks about, says that the primary work of oppression is policing imagination. And Chris was here and spoke about the fact that we need to reimagine and reimagine better. Right? I think part of building a movement requires a lot of imagination, and we haven’t always been creative, and we haven’t always been able to create spaces to do that. And my hope, especially for most survivors leaders – all we have is our imagination. When you’re hopeless and you have nothing to do, the only thing you have is to imagine and to imagine hope. So I really hope that you join all of us, join us and stand in this new journey of imagination of what the movement could look like.
Sophie: [00:29:52] GFEMS has shifted and we are embarking on a new journey. As you know, one of the things that I was tasked by the board with was to imagine a new strategy for the fund. And we did this through a very – It was a very emotional, I would say painful and not quite easy process because changing is not an easy process, right? Anybody who has had to change realizes that it’s not easy to achieve without actually hurting people, without making mistakes along the way. So the reflection that we did was we looked at the projects that we had. We were very honest about the impact that we’d made, which was great. But we also had listened to a lot of feedback from our grantees, from our partners, from survivor leaders about shifting the way we do things. And the shift that we are making is in response to that feedback. And I truly hope that all of you can come, those of you who are here can come with us on that journey. So what will the new GFEMS look like? As you can imagine, our main focus is going to be on movement building and really building our movement, promoting the building of a movement that focuses and centers survivors. So our updated strategy at GFEMS has identified three critical focus areas, and the first focus area is building a survivor-centric environment. I’ll speak about this a little bit because sometimes I feel like when I’m surrounded by people who are not, who don’t have lived experience, don’t truly understand what it is to exist in an environment that doesn’t center you or hasn’t imagined you, or hasn’t thought about you.
Sophie: [00:31:57] As someone who comes from the quote-unquote “Global South,” as a Kenyan, 90% of the time when I enter rooms I have to assimilate. I have to change the way I dress. I have to change the way I speak. I have to change the way I imagine the world. I have to change everything to fit in. And none of us imagine the toll it has on someone to not be able to understand the space in which you’re in. And when you’re constantly when survivors constantly – who have lived experience – constantly enter rooms, the work that we have to do to assimilate because the language, the culture, the thought process, the ideas do not reflect who we are, it is a huge toll on top of the trauma and on top of all the things that we have to do. For the longest time, survivors and in general, people with lived experience, have come into rooms, have listened, adapted and really worked with what has been given. The work that we are going to do in building a survivor-centered environment to change the focus on trying to expand more spaces that imagine survivors at the center and really working with organizations to make sure that that happens practically. Practically. For those who know me, you know that I am a very pragmatic person. For me, it’s way more important for us to do two things that we can do today than imagine 70 things that we cannot do.
Sophie: [00:33:38] So this work is really focused on working with organization, with organizations to develop survivor-informed practices, narratives, institutions, approaches and culture. And we are going to do that by actually providing funding to support and grow survivor-led organizations and organizations in general to do this work. The work you are going to see today that the panel will discuss is part of what we’ll be doing in terms of doing this.
Sophie: [00:34:13] The second part of our focus is going to focus on funding and building the foundation for our movement. As I said at the beginning, it is going to be impossible for us to continue doing things the same way. We will not be able to address the issue of trafficking and modern slavery without a vibrant movement. And that requires organizing. It requires all of us to change the way we think, change the way we do things. Chris has spoken about some of the work that survivors have consistently been doing. We can only imagine how much we can be able to do when we bridge these two worlds – the survivor-led movement and the sector that we’ve already built that has structures and resources and things that we can be able to use to do to transform what we have. So the second piece of work that we are doing, the second area that we are going to focus on is going to be on this looking at funding and building that foundation. We realize that it’s not easy. It’s not easy for one person to be able to do it and or for one organization to be to be able to do it. And finally, for our movement to truly succeed, the people that have to be at the center and at the front have to be survivors, have to be people with lived experience.
Sophie: [00:35:42] The other part of what we are going to do in our movement-building portfolio, finding and building the movement is actually giving flexible funding for organizations to just focus on core operations. We are not going to be able to do the work to build a movement if people are consistently thinking about projects. Projects are great to address very specific things, but at the end of the day, people need to pay salaries. People need to be able to take to take care of their children. As we’ve said, without people being able to do these things the burnout rate in this space, the fact that we cannot be able to imagine, is as a result of not investing in organizations and really investing in projects. Again, I repeat, projects are great, but when you have projects that don’t imagine that people run those projects, we are not, again, we are not doing the work that we are supposed to do. It’s people that write reports. It’s people that go out and create awareness. It’s people that take care of survivors. And at the end of the day, if we don’t imagine organizations as being run by people, we are not going to be able to fund or grow this movement.
Sophie: [00:37:08] The last area that the new strategy will focus on advocacy. And this is really focused on this thinking about accountability, not just accountability, government accountability, but also accountability amongst ourselves, increasing standards and really thinking about advocacy work around the world. And again, these are areas that were highlighted by organizations at the areas that are under-funded, under-resourced, and that people felt was important for us as a fund to focus on.
Sophie: [00:37:47] This, as you realize, is a very different structure from what the fund used to look like. And my hope is that as we continue to work on this, as we continue doing this work, the new face of GFEMS is going to be something that all of us look forward to and all of us believe is important.
Sophie: [00:38:13] We’re also really going to be thinking about this partnership. Most of the work that we are doing. Is really going to be impossible to do without working on it and that’s the reason why, again, working with NSN as a first step was important for us. We want to model partnership. We want to make sure that in everything that we do, we are working with people, we are teaching, we are talking, and we are walking the walk. So I really, really hope that you join us as we walk in this.
Sophie: [00:38:51] The tool that is going to be presented here is part of, as I say, this part of the work that we will be doing. And Chris already said we worked on this together, co-created it with the team, and I’m really, really proud of the work that has been done by the team and the panel. You listen from the panel discussion, so they’ll present the tool and also discuss the journey that we went through in creating this tool. My hope is that our organizations will try, if anything, to try and go on the same journey that GFEMS has gone through and learn. That’s one.Two: work with the National Survivor Network and other survivor-led organizations who actually do this work. Because for us to be a survivor-centered movement, we cannot put aside actually working with survivors. So my hope is also that you are going to reach out to please reach out to other survivor organizations to work on doing this.
Sophie: [00:40:06] And finally, my last call of action is that you will join GFEMS. I know that GFEMS has been supported by this space from when Jean was moving around and asking people and, you know, and my hope is that you will continue providing that support. I’ve always said that any position that I’ve been through in this space when I was a grassroots activist or I was a practitioner, I’ve always been able to do it because I had the support of my community. And my hope is that as GFEMS moves into this new phase, that my community will come with me. Thank you so much. And I would love to welcome the people on the panel.
Adam: [00:41:29] All right. We’re going to try this again. Can everybody hear me? All right. Great. My name is Adam Needleman. I’m a team member here at GFEMS. Really great to see all of you. Thanks for coming. Thanks for braving the rain. Thanks for braving the Internet connection if you’re joining us remotely, I’ve got the privilege tonight of moderating this panel of our esteemed guests and experts, and I think we’ll get started by having them introduce themselves. So I’d like to start with our virtual participants first. Rosette, would you like to start us with introductions?
Rosette: [00:42:03] Thank you, Adam. My name is Rosette Nsonga. I’m a member of the National Survival Network and a person with the lived experience. I’m a human rights activist and an author. I’m based here in California, but from Uganda. Thank you.
Adam: [00:42:29] Pleasure to have you. I hope it’s not raining like this in California. So would you like to go next?
Suamhirs: [00:42:35] Yeah, Hi Rosette and colleagues that are there in person. I’m so sad that I’m not able to be there in person and see everybody’s boots. Apparently that’s the thing to do right now in D.C. My name is Suamhirs Piraino-Guzman. As of recently, I get to call myself Doctor now, so I became a practitioner and in psychiatry and now I’m able to practice psychiatry in the state of California. And I recently moved back to the state of California after five years away. I’m Rosette’s neighbor, and currently I’m the Director of Drop-In Services at the Orangewood Foundation.
Adam: [00:43:13] Thank you. Let’s just go. It’s my right to left. Your left to right.
Wade: [00:43:18] Yeah. I’m Wade Arvizu. I am here as a human trafficking subject matter expert. I also work at Survivor Alliance as their Associate Director of – my title just changed – so as Associate Director of of Development and Consulting. And so I’m here as also a National Survivor Network member, as well as a member of Survivor Alliance and a staff member there and huge supporter of GFEMS and major fan of Sophie.
Chris: [00:43:53] I’m Chris. Chris Ash My pronouns are they/them. Wade and I had some teasing each other on Facebook about starting a cool Boots club. So that’s what Suamhirs is was referring to. And any of you here wearing cool boots can join us afterward to receive your initiation. I am the Survivor Leadership Program Manager at the National Survivor Network, based out of North Carolina myself. But I’m super excited to be here. And I’m also a member of both the National Survivor Network and Survivor Alliance.
Grace: [00:44:30] And last but not least. Hi, everyone. My name is Grace West. I’m a senior program manager at GFEMS, and I’m coming here today as the person that’s been able to work so closely with this wonderful team and as an ally in space.
Adam: [00:44:47] Thank you all for being here tonight. I’m really excited to do this. And congratulations. It sounds like there’s quite a few promotions and other life upgrades happening on the panel. But to get us started, Grace, would you mind sharing with us how these toolkits we’re here to talk about came to be and what drove their creation?
Grace: [00:45:05] Certainly, I would be very happy to. So we’ve developed two toolkits, they’re a little bit of a mouthful. The first being the Meaningful Engagement of People with Lived Experience framework and assessment, as well as a Funders Toolkit for Lived Experience Inclusion in Modern Slavery Research available now on our website as of a couple of hours ago. Yay! These came about really from the Fund’s own desire to take a look at ourselves as an organization and see where we are on the continuum of lived experience engagement. So a couple of years ago we formed a dedicated committee, the Survivor Leadership and Allyship Committee, to take this work on with a lot more intentionality. And we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with the National Survivor Network as of last year, and that is when we really began to take a look at and doing this internal organizational sort of introspection. We wanted to see where we were as an organization.
Grace: [00:46:06] As Sophie mentioned earlier, ask the hard questions and see where we were progressing, see where we maybe were not progressing and figure out how were we, how we were even going to evaluate how we are going to progress. So that last question sort of led us to taking a look at the resources that were available online already, taking a look at surveys and assessments that we could adapt or use for our own work. And it sort of just snowballed from there, really bringing this idea when we brought on Chris’s brilliance and our other members from the National Survivor Network to see what can we develop for our own use that could potentially be useful to to the rest of the field. And something like nine months later, we have this beautiful documents that we hope you all will take a look at and derive a lot of use from. But Chris, I was wondering if you would be able to share a little bit about what’s in these documents, given it’s more your baby as well.
Chris: [00:47:04] Yeah, I can tell you what’s in there. So the first half of it is just an introduction to our framework for lived experience leadership and engagement in the work. And we break it down – if you think about both horizontal and vertical, right? So horizontally we have the spectrum of lived experience engagement and the idea with that is there’s many different ways we can engage from INFORM, right? So inform is things like plain language fact sheets, you know, is your grievance policy actually able to be read by the people you’re working with? If you put out an 87 page academic research report, do you also put out a one or two page fact sheet so that people who are impacted by the issue can know what you’re finding? Right? So that’s inform. We have ASK, are you consistently surveying and getting information from the people who have lived experience that you’re currently working with because they’re a great source of information about how well you’re doing that? I mean, an organization will hire someone who’s been out of their trafficking experience for five years to come tell them what they’re doing, but won’t even listen to the clients they’re serving. Right? So that’s ask.
Chris: [00:48:16] INVOLVE is where you bring in that consultant to maybe do a review of your protocols. You have someone come in, they’re still peripheral, but they’re consulting, they’re advising, they’re making sure that the language that you’re using is thoughtful and intentional. The next level is COLLABORATE, right? Collaborate. If you think of collaborate, we’re talking there about either employees, full-time staff, part-time staff or regular contractors. You all know how you have those contractors that might as well be full-time staff because they they work with you and three other orgs and you know them super well. That’s collaborate.
Chris: [00:48:54] And then the final level on this spectrum is EMPOWER. And empower is where you they tell you what they want you to do and then you make sure that it happens, right? So these are all levels that we can engage and we want to make sure we’re not skipping a level. We don’t want to forget to survey our people. You know, so great that you’re surveying your people. But do the people that you survey have any information about what you’re going to do with the results of that survey or what changes you made in response to their feedback? That’s the inform level, right? We want to have it go across the entire spectrum, but we also want to move up what is the highest level of engagement that you are doing with some degree of success? And so we kind of lay this out. We talk about inclusion and power dynamics and how that impacts the way we do the work.
Chris: [00:49:45] And then we give you 8 billion pages of surveys and assessment because I used to be a program evaluator to provider and I love making charts and graphs.
Wade: [00:49:57] With a one or two page fact sheet.
Chris: [00:50:00] (laughs) There’s an abbreviated one, there’s a participant one, so there’s a comprehensive survey. It’s really long. And when I first showed it to the committee that was working internally at GFEMS, they were like, this is long. And I’m like, this is what y’all put on the jamboard, dude, don’t get mad at me. I literally said that in a meeting – the never ending jamboard that became the very long comprehensive survey, but that was created primarily for GFEMS internal use because Sophie was adamant that we’re not just creating something to tell people what to do. We’re going to do it because in our meeting, sometimes we would slip into like, oh, we could share this with our grantees. And Sophie would be like, “We’re talking about us. What are *we* doing?” Right.
Chris: [00:50:41] So we also made an abbreviated survey. The abbreviated survey might be a smaller or newer organization. It may even be that within one organization, they give the comprehensive survey to certain staff who would have a lot of insight and the abbreviated survey to other staff who maybe have more time constraints. And then Sophie’s genius idea was what if, like she said this to me in a Zoom call, what if we made a participant survey where we ask their clients about the inform and ask level to see of what their actual participants say matches what the organization thinks about their plain language fact sheets? So there’s a participant survey.
Chris: [00:51:20] We then give you a whole lot of tools to analyze your results and come up with an average score for each level. And then the first level that you do not score 75% or higher is your target level. For everybody, that’s going to be level one. I’m gonna be honest with you all. If anyone gets over a level one to start with, they’re probably not super self-reflective in this process or they’re a unicorn. And email me at survivor leadership at CastLA dot org, I would like to make you famous. So and then it gives you ways to look at the indicators from that level and prioritize which ones you want to start with. There’s a priority matrix that assesses the resources and staffing time it would take, the amount of impact it can have, and whether or not it’s sustainable. So you can really analyze where you want to start. That’s what’s in it. It’s a big, big project and we had a graphic designer and illustrator. I just want to shout out Rose Kibara – It is beautiful. I like cried when I saw it.
Adam: [00:52:28] I may be a little bit biased, but that all sounds wonderful. I can second the designs. Also made me want to cry. For me, the toolkits are a really great way to kind of concretize these concepts that donors especially kind of talk about in these magical buzzwords. On that note, so can you share with us your experience to date with survivor engagement as it actually happens in reality in anti-trafficking work so far?
Suamhirs: [00:52:56] Yeah. Hi, everyone, again. I think survivor engagement in the anti-trafficking sector has been something that – I think that Sophie said this in a meeting last year in San Francisco – We have been talking about that same thing for 20 years and it’s getting very tiresome to come back and still talking about that same thing. The reality is that we’re still talking still, while there is a movement towards incorporating people who lived experience not only in the in the ask and the kind of involvement, but actually having them lead the anti-trafficking sector and actually become a movement has been something that has been for for a very long time. I worked in anti-trafficking sector now for about 15 years. And I will tell you, I would say for the first five years, I was really out with my story and people knew what happened to me and where and stuff like that in California. And it was it became kind of like the didn’t matter how many how many letters I put after my name, the first thing they looked at me as the victim, as that person who was too fragile, despite having despite having everything they asked for to get that job, they were still giving me that challenge and challenging me that I would not be able to lead a program will not be able to become… Sorry. There is a fire alarm going off in my office, so let me check that real quick. So I’m going to get off. Yeah. Sorry. There’s a fire alarm, so I need to disconnect.
Adam: [00:54:29] Just do that. Um. We go to Suamhirs for hot takes, I suppose. You went a little too far. (laughter) Okay, well, moving right along, then. I have a question for the entire panel. Okay. That was hilarious. Oh, Are you back? Are you safe.
Suamhirs: [00:54:45] From the outside? How about that?
Adam: [00:54:48] Okay. All right. Well, go ahead and finish what you were saying.
Suamhirs: [00:54:54] So people with lived experience have continuously, for many years, have continued to argue well, to make that case for why people with lived experience should be part not only in the anti-trafficking sector, but also move that needle to truly become a movement led by people with lived experience like we see it in the domestic violence movement and in any other movement that actually impacts people the impacts people. We’re seeing that where people with lived experienced at the forefront and really managing the agenda and saying, this is where we’re going. So these have been something that that has been ongoing for many, many years. And just now I think that we’re making a dent in it.
Suamhirs: [00:55:42] However, I think that that argument that that the 20 years of advocacy for inclusion of survivors of trafficking in the anti-trafficking sector has almost kind of come back and bite us in the butt because people a lot of the agencies working with survivors of trafficking still think — I’m outside now because there’s truly a fire inside, apparently. So, yes, I don’t know. It’s a very funny take. (side conversation) Sorry. I have a service dog, so everybody’s, like, evacuating the building. Anyway, so, actually, you know what? I should get off. So for a moment, I apologize, but yeah.
Chris: [00:56:32] This is the dedication that survivors bring to their work. Yeah. Live-streaming from a burning building.
Adam: [00:56:42] I think there’s a metaphor in there. So as I said, we’ll move on to the next question, which is for the whole panel. How would you all define meaningful lived experience engagement, rather than kind of the tokenized level that we’ve been talking about tonight? Rosette, we’d like to start with you.
Rosette: [00:56:59] Thank you, Adam. The concept of lived experience engagement. Like many have said, we are saying that this is a call. And a call for everybody – actually an alarm! We want people to know that with lived experience we are meaning involvement of people with livd experience at all levels in the movement that is aiming to end human trafficking. This should be done in all levels and all activities of the movement. For example, in research at policy level, at program development, program delivery, program evaluation. Indeed, all levels of activities that are aimed at ending human trafficking would wish to see involvement of people with the lived experience. And not only involving them, but taking leadership. This should not be passive, but should be active. This will help many voices that are impacted to get involved in the change they need. It will also bring transparency and therefore we are saying that we want the movement the leadership to be centered around people with the lived experience. If we are ready to make changes, we want to see, and that is what we are really advocating for, and we are calling upon our stakeholders, including government to come up and embrace this, the living experience engagement leadership. That’s what I would say about it. Thank you.
Adam: [00:59:05] Would any of our panelists in person like to add anything to that?
Wade: [00:59:09] Yeah, I think when I just think of meaningful engagement, I just think of the word meaningful. And I think that that changes for everybody, right? If you think of what is meaningful and what is valuable, you showed up here because there’s a reason why it’s important. So when I think of what is meaningful engagement look like, I’m tired of sharing my knowledge if it’s not going to be heard and implemented. We get asked all the time to come and speak and share what needs to change? What needs to change? Meaningful engagement is when you engage and something actually happens because of that engagement. And what I can say is I love, like all of the faces in this room, some I don’t know yet, some I’ve just met and some I’ve worked with for quite a bit longer. And I have seen just the growth in the intention of engaging survivors meaningfully.
Wade: [01:00:00] And I think Sophie pointed this out in the beginning that part of it is the how right is how do we do this and how do we do it effectively. And so one of the other things that I that I kind of just connected to all of this and wanted to point out was I know he kind of came in with like, here are the ways that things have not been going. Right. Right. And hearing like there are these levels of survivor engagement and we’re all in level one and it’s like, okay, I’ve been here for 25 years, and now I’ve kind of lost my oomph, you know? And I think about that and I think, you know, what’s really what I look at is this was the first time, maybe not the first time, but one of very few times where as a person with lived experience, I sat in a room and as Sophie talked about, being that person who has to assimilate, I didn’t. Everything inside of me was like, Yes, yes, I had to keep it in because no one else was screaming.
Wade: [01:00:52] So I look at this and I think about that, and I think at the same time, there is absolutely a lot of professionalism and experience in this room. And there are people who know how to engage and interact with donors, with philanthropists, with people and governments. And it’s taking the knowledge of what you do have and recognizing that survivors do, in fact, know what needs to be done. They just need to be empowered to do that work. If they don’t understand the background, if they don’t understand how it works, if they don’t understand the bureaucracy, walk through that, talk about the challenges, talk about how to address those things. So meaningful engagement is not only, you know, is what I’m doing matters, but it’s like if you’re recognizing, hey, if you think somebody’s not qualified to do it then stand with them and show them how to do it and then let them lead.
Chris: [01:01:42] I think Wade touched on the one thing I was going to say, which is the prickly part for those of us who have lived experience, sometimes meaningful engagement means you tell someone when what they’re doing is not going to happen. Not to limit the imagination, but I’m thinking of an example. I’m someone who gets excited about Z and I want to jump to Z. I’m like, Let’s do Z. And I’ve had really good supervisors that have been like, I am so with you. Z is wonderful. How about we start with B and then we have to do C and then we have to do D, And also we might want to figure out a plan to like make sure the different pieces stay happening. You’re not quite ready to launch that yet. Let’s come up with a plan to make sure you’ve got the right people in place. And I think that sometimes because survivor leaders have been so horrifically talked over at different points in our experiences, there’s a tendency among allies to not say, hey, you’re you’re shooting for Z and I am with you and I want to get you to Z, But let me teach you about the other 25 letters of the alphabet and help you come up with a plan. Let’s make a plan together. I want you to get busy.
Chris: [01:02:53] Right. We kind of need people who can do that. And I’ve been very blessed to have supervisors who were able to not detract me from my enthusiasm, but to help me translate it into a program plan or a project chart that helps me identify what pieces I need and what staff I need to make something happen.
Grace: [01:03:16] And while all that I think has already been said is pretty much covered at all, I would just add from where I sit when I think of meaningful, it’s really just reinforcing what has just been said. I’m thinking of that support and then thinking about that continual investment. It’s one thing to get feedback and maybe even circle back and close that loop and share what’s been done with that feedback. But it’s another thing to have somebody come alongside you throughout the journey by continually investing in them. And so it’s making sure that the destination and the journey all has that ingrained support for people with lived experience. And that’s actually something that’s easier said than done because that needs resources, that needs time. That means things takes longer. You’re not going to get to Z as quickly as you want to, but the intentionality of it is what makes it meaningful. It’s that commitment and intentionality.
Adam: [01:04:24] Powerful stuff. I’m sure that really resonates with a lot of us. I mean, I’ve certainly seen a lot of this in my time at the fund. Chris, I wonder from you, why does all this matter in the first place?
Chris: [01:04:35] I think for me, I’ve heard some people that have really not quite understood why lived experience leadership matters, right? I’ve heard them feel like we can’t stop focusing on the issues on the ground to really think about lived experience leadership in the ways that we want. Like we can’t draw resources from crisis services to invest in this. But really what we’re doing on the ground is not going to be effective in the long run unless it is being informed by people who have lived experience, people who are from those communities, people who have trafficking-adjacent experiences. Right. It’s not going to be effective if we don’t have their engagement and we can’t get meaningful input from them if we aren’t investing in them beyond that crisis moment. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot by not investing in people beyond crisis. We’re damaging our efforts by not investing in meaningful community transformation that can lead to prevention when communities aren’t in poverty, when communities aren’t as impacted by things like mass incarceration and redlining and de facto segregation of neighborhoods, when people aren’t as impacted by childhood trauma because their parents and families and communities are better supported and resourced to care for them. Like this is prevention, right? These are all prevention. And if we start really investing in some of those longer-term things beyond just crisis, then we’re going to see that we’re better able to help people get to the point where they can give us that meaningful input like we were mentioning earlier, teach us how to do the thing. We want to learn how to do the thing, right, but we have to invest in them. And I think that’s why it matters, is because our efforts on the ground are always, always going to fall short of what we could be doing if we don’t have a sector directing that work that is led by people who have lived experience at every level.
Suamhirs: [01:06:38] Hi. Hi, everyone. Do you mind if I chime in on this one? I’m back. I mean, I’m in other building. I’m okay. They’re just – apparently somebody put something in the office and it burned. So that’s why you teach kids how to use the kitchen. So anyways, I really thought that this was a really great question for us to really discuss, because I really believe in, something that I have always talked about, investing in your people not only as a manager, but like investing in survivors honestly is one of the best ways that we can. Upskill – if we upskill survivors to take a leadership position in the future, to get a career started, to start thinking about what that looks like in the future. And this is something that has really been at the forefront. And in any employment situation, perhaps where we are investing not only in the hiring of somebody, but in their training, their development. If they wanted more trainings, they wanted more things that they need to learn more, more avenues, more additional things and upskill people.
Suamhirs: [01:07:42] I would say, you know, I am nothing but every investment, every single director, every single manager have had so far invested in me from from when I was very early in the movement. And people were saying, you need to talk about trauma care, you need to learn about this, you need to learn about EMDR. You need to learn trauma-focused behavioral therapy and all of those things. You know, before I became a psychologist, before I became those things, I was already learning on those because there were things that prepared me and actually put me in the path to become a psychologist and now a doctor, you know, and these are things because of the high investment that people made in me. Every manager has invested. So I do recommend and I ask that you please not only take take that investment to the next level, prepare people not only for the job they have, but for the job that you think they can do in the future and for the organization. What do they what is next for them?
Adam: [01:08:39] Wade, did you have any follow up thoughts on that? Oh, okay. Um. Well, powerful stuff. Grace, can you share some examples from your capacity? Give us some examples of how meaningful lived experience engagement has improved a policy, a program or a project?
Grace: [01:08:57] Absolutely. So since our first projects launched in 2018, I’ve been very happy to see just a ramp up of meaningful inclusion in the actual projects that we have on the ground. We’ve made it an integral, integral part of a project that we currently have working in Brazil on coffee farms in order to reduce forced labor in the coffee sector. And we’ve done this primarily by partnering and coming alongside of a survivor organization in a neighboring state that is known to be one of the main sending states to our target, our project geography. This association works with more than 30 survivors and their families, and they are active and importantly are supported to be active by another partner organization in regular advisory council meetings, as well as just being a project partner. Just the same as all of our other project partners on that same level with that same level of of sort of leadership and respect. So their inputs have helped tremendously in understanding how we can best reach the project’s target population, which is workers on coffee farms in this particular instance. What kind of communication channels would be the most trusted, would be relied on by the by the workers, the type of communication that would resonate as well as what other stakeholders that are out there that we should partner with, and that actually became funded partners based on the recommendation of the survivor association.
Grace: [01:10:35] So also we have we have to make sure that we create the environment that is appropriate to make sure that we can leverage their participation to the fullest extent and make sure that they feel safe in an environment to share their in rooms with 20 other organizations that we brought on to give input with with government agencies and stakeholders. And that takes a lot of intentionality, again, to make sure that they feel they are able to share, they’re able to share candidly as well as they’re able to understand what would normally be highly technical conversations that we may be familiar with so that they have the highest level of participation realized. So the project looks quite different from when it started a year ago based on the adapting to the feedback, and it’s obviously much better for it.
Adam: [01:11:31] Yeah. I mean, the survivor engagement in this project has definitely been one of the most attractive things about it to me. Hugely impressive some of the improvements we’ve been able to make. We’ve touched on this a bit before, but now I’m kind of curious about gaps or other improvements we need to make for meaningful survivor engagement and other programs. So you’ve talked about this a little bit with the upskilling, but I’m curious, what are your other thoughts on other gaps or needed improvements we’ve got to make?
Suamhirs: [01:11:57] Absolutely.
Chris: [01:12:00] Can I interrupt? Yes. Just a reminder, we do have ASL interpreters, and so if we speak a little slower, they can keep up.
Suamhirs: [01:12:08] Wonderful. Thank you. Sorry, What was the question again? You see.
Adam: [01:12:14] What do you think the gaps and the improvements we need to make are?
Suamhirs: [01:12:19] Absolutely. I think that number one, I think we do need to do like I really ask every organization that works with the survivors of trafficking that are interested in bringing in survivors, people with lived experience not only as contractors, consultants, but people who they will be led by or they will be working alongside with the need to really for us to assess that, for us to understand what is done. And I think that tool that we have now, that GFEMS and NSN has published, gives you the unique opportunity to take a moment and stop, because I think the last thing that we want to do is hire that person with lived experience for that lived experience job or a peer advocate or however you want to call it. You know, it really just creates additional challenges rather than it really living up to what is it? What are you trying to do with people with experience? Are you trying to be led by them? Are you trying to listen to them? Those are two different things. And listening to people is much more than just are like the common the little thing that we have right now, that thousand dollars payment and or not even that sometimes that was way too much money [based on what survivors usually get]. But the reality is that it’s much more than that. We really needed that. The assessment and understanding. We need positions to be made based on what the program needs, not based on you thinking you need survivors of trafficking working with you.
Suamhirs: [01:13:43] The reality is that I want you to encourage you to think that the fact that we are survivors of trafficking and working alongside, that’s the cherry on top. That’s what makes us unique. But it’s not what makes us available or the best for a specific job. So I think we really we need to take a step back and like, why do we need to bring a person? Why do we want to need to bring a person with lived experience into our program? What does that look like? How are we going? What is that commitment that we’re bringing in, what commitment that we make to that person as an organization, but also as a program? What commitments can we make to them and what can they make to us?
Suamhirs: [01:14:20] And I think that that that conversations are now really taking place where, again, because we’re hiring people out of the emotion that they’re survivors rather than we have a job that needs to be done. And this is and this is what I said, Like, honestly, I think that 20 years of advocacy for inclusion of survivors and the movement kind of came back and bit us in the butt because, like, while we’re seeing this that we said survivor inclusion, survivor inclusion, survivor leadership. And I was like, and then they said, okay, okay, okay. And what they turned into survivor leadership and inclusion was, again, those $25 gift cards or the gas cards, perhaps if you get it to listen to somebody or come to come to speak to your team about what they experience, but not necessarily the tangible things, how can you use your experience to teach us something and how we are going to use those teachings to improve and upskill ourselves as service providers? So that is that gap.
Suamhirs: [01:15:10] It’s like really understanding us, like what do we want and for what purpose? Not for the purpose of tokenizing one or because our contract says that we need to bring somebody with lived experience. The reality is that yes, you already may have people with experience working alongside with you that we don’t need them to disclose, we don’t need them to be out with the story. The reality is that it’s honestly an assessment and understanding that if you do have people with that experience working with you, that you have to take what they tell you, their feedback and recommendations. And that’s killing us in organizations, seriously. And put that into perspective and use this tool now, this guideline now the tool that will get you there to really get there, move away from that I would say meaningless contribution to like actually sitting down with people and saying, I’m going to hold on to this and we’re going to make changes as a result of what you told us.
Adam: [01:16:06] Any other thoughts from panels on gaps?
Wade: [01:16:10] I think I want to just kind of hit back to like the beginning that we came when we were talking, when Sophie was talking about GFEMS and the focus. And I think a big part when I think about gaps, I do think about core funding. As a person who’s been working in a nonprofit organization that is survivor-led, that works well with allied organizations that work alongside us, one of the things that we’re constantly struggling for is to fund the work that’s already happening, right? We’re working in a sector where we’re talking about labor trafficking and sex trafficking, labor exploitation, and yet we’re in positions where people have so much work that they don’t actually have the capacity to get it all done because we continue to fund projects and fund projects and fund projects. And when it comes down to actually being able to have that sustainability for an organization, when you’re worried about whether or not you can fund your positions for next year, it’s really, really hard to focus on the rest, right? And that causes instability within organizations.
Wade: [01:17:06] And so I’ll say recently within my role, we had reached out to different organizations, survivor-led and allied organizations on participating in a in a fellowship program. And one of my colleagues had brought up, you know, we really didn’t have a lot of responses from survivor-led organizations. And, you know, we had a discussion around that and around the fact that it it most likely was not that there was accessibility issues because a lot of survivor led organizations simply don’t have the funding and the support to actually bring someone on to participate. And so thinking through those pieces, when I think about those gaps, I think it’s not always about the flashy parts. It’s not always about we can say we reach 200 people or 500 people, which a lot of times is what moves funders to be able to have those tangible things that you can say, but we’re forgetting about the things that we’re doing, the differences that we’re making when we are employing people with lived experience, how much quicker we’re often able to get to the solutions when you have folks who have that understanding already. And so when I think about that, I think about, you know, really talking about funding those those things and for more tangible over a longer period of time, right, where you don’t have to worry about next year, but you can focus on actually getting to the end of your five year plan.
Adam: [01:18:26] Yeah, critical. Now, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of meaningful engagement. We’ve talked about how we get there. But a thing we hear all the time is that there’s some concerns that doing this kind of work can result in re traumatization for people who have had lived experiences. So, Wade, I’m wondering if you could share some thoughts about about this.
Wade: [01:18:45] Yeah. So one of the primary things I do in my role is actually training nonprofit organizations that are doing anti trafficking work on allyship. And it’s interesting because I do this all over the world and the primary response we get every single time to why people don’t engage with survivors as leaders is the fear of retraumatizing them. And all I can think of is God, that is literally the number one fear, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, if we’re so afraid of retraumatizing someone that we don’t engage them. How? This is why we’re all on step one! Like this is literally why! We can’t not touch people because we’re afraid.
Wade: [01:19:23] And one of the things that we talk about is that it is impossible not to trigger people. Everyone is triggered by different things. You don’t have to be a survivor to be triggered, right? We all get triggered. Somebody reminds you of your mom. Whew. Like half of us in this room, we’re gone, right? So we all have that stuff. So it’s not about triggering somebody. People can get past triggers. You can walk away for 15 minutes, Breathe, step outside, come back. We can do the work through that. It’s not about that. So really thinking through those those pieces and how to actually work through the conflict, work through the challenges that come up and not be scared of those things, but, you know, come to the table saying, hey, we’re not going to get it all right. We’re doing our best. We’re open to your feedback. And we also want you to be open to ours and just collaborate in the truest sense of the word.
Adam: [01:20:15] Really crucial point there is that we’ve heard tonight about how the toolkit offers some frameworks for continual assessment and evaluation of these efforts. I’m curious from you. What’s the value of assessing these programs through through evaluation?
Rosette: [01:20:32] Thank you, Adam. Evaluation is actually very, very important for all organizations. This is because we always have indicators of the plans we have, but we need to measure them to see whether we are still focused. Are we doing well? Are we off track then for us to get to that? There should be assessments. And therefore that means we have to collect data in connection to that and assess the institutions. Whether they are still on track of getting their indicators as planned. But the challenge so far is many institutions do it just to to please funders without attaching value for this matter. Therefore, we are saying that institutions should actually involve staff or building their capacity to sensitize them to know the value of assessment. Because we want to see that the work they do is aligned to their project or their institution’s indicators and values. However, this has been always difficult for many institutions because they don’t budget for that and also to donors. Many donors don’t allow institutions maybe to budget for that. So basically this tool is coming to awaken both the institutions and the donors that there is actually a need for institutional assessments of whatever they are doing [including survivor engagement].
Rosette: [01:22:21] And that therefore means that all institutions, for whatever they are doing, they should plan assessment and their evaluations. And by doing so, they have to budget in all their program and all their programs as they are doing project development, proposal development – budget for evaluation is very important. A budget for staff development capacity building towards evaluation is also very important. So the toolkit is coming to to awaken institutions and also the donors to allow the budget to include the evaluation of the institutions and projects so that they align the indicators together with their and see whether the indicators are in line with the values. That is the purpose of the evaluation in the toolkit. Thank you very much.
Grace: [01:23:25] If I’m able to piggyback on Rosette, I think a lot of us in this room and online may be familiar or very much steeped in *project* evaluation, *program* evaluation, and hitting all of those marks and maybe not as much on organizational evaluation of where you are *as an organization*. So when we’re talking about evaluation in this particular instance, this is coming off of a organizational survey of where you are in on along the spectrum and being able to take the time and resourcing the time to actually do those assessments can show you the gaps in your own organization and show you where you may need to spotlight additional staff capacity for… For example, if you realize that an area that you may not be as strong in, you know, under Inform is is particular types of communication materials, accessible communication materials and taking the time to do that assessment and doing the prioritization will show you like, okay like we might need somebody to to come on board to help us with this or perhaps the workload of this particular person can also take this on if we shift it in this way. And it helps you to think about how you can run your organizations in in a way that if you did not take the time to actually, and if you just do the assessment and not spend the critical time to do the actual analysis of this and the evaluation of this, that you might miss out on some of those key nuances.
Adam: [01:24:57] Similar, now that we talk about this to what Sophie was saying, I think about project versus just operational funding and I’m really excited to take GFEMS to a place where we can focus on assessing our impact on organizations and not just these glossy impact numbers. That being said, though, a less bold organization might find this to be a pretty scary undertaking, like taking a test to see if you pass or if you fail. Chris and Grace, I’m hoping that you can speak from your organizational perspective about how you would approach this assessment in a way that’s honest and that might actually uncover some real valuable truth. Chris, let’s start with you.
Chris: [01:25:36] Yeah, well, I know once we have it available, which it is now, we’re planning to start working through it in Cast. But having facilitated GFEMS, they have an internal, as we’ve mentioned, an internal lived experience and allies committee that’s been meeting weekly forever to really focus on this work. We decided that instead of each staff doing the survey that we would do it collaboratively during those weekly meetings. And it’s been very interesting for me as someone who’s not a GFEMS employee, to hear them be like, “Y’all, you know, we’re zero at that. Quit pretending like we’re higher than that.” They’re kind of like they’re like naming it. And what happens is on each one of those where they’re like, I think we’re a zero. I’m looking in our shared Google document and they’re all typing notes with all of these brilliant ideas about things they can do to be repairing some of those and improving them and fixing them. And to me, that’s the beauty of like deep frightening self-reflection on a personal or an organizational level is that when you really take stock and do that inventory, then you can figure out where the areas are that you can really work on. And the great thing about the toolkit is that instead of being like, Congratulations, you’re on level one, hate it for you, we then say, and now here’s some extra tools that can help you figure out where to start.
Chris: [01:27:04] As you’ve all heard so many different metaphors about how you start with a little piece on a big project, one step at a time. So the toolkit has assessment tools and analysis tools that guide you through that one step at a time, figuring out where to go next. So, you know, it is intimidating. And also, let’s just all admit that we’re going to be on level one to start with. And that way none of us feel embarrassed about it, right?
Grace: [01:27:29] Exactly. I was thinking I would not be surprised to learn if this room is filled with perfectionists or perfection-leaning individuals. And if we all can commit to understanding and knowing and realizing that it’s not a bad thing to admit where you need improvement. No one’s going to get perfect on this. No one’s close to getting perfect on this. And I hope that that sentiment brings either comfort or some sense of relief that you don’t have to prove yourself as an organization or as a team within an organization. And really at least starting with a level of understanding that we’re going to get real when we do this, because you’re not going to get the most out of it unless you’re brutally honest. And once that brutal honesty sets in, the sky’s the limit after that, because then you know what you have set out for you to do and accomplish as a team together.
Chris: [01:28:29] To add just one more thought to which is the reason we’re at a one, isn’t because we’re not trying. It’s not because your organizations aren’t wonderful. It’s not because everyone in here who leads organizations or runs a program isn’t incredible. It’s because the system is stacked against us. Y’all read our grant RFPs when they put out the requests for proposals to get funding. It’s hard to read that, and then they want you to do all these extra things, which is part of why I’m excited to see GFEMS’ new direction as they’re taking some of those barriers down. But in order to get our funding, in order to complete 8 billion reports and I’m not talking to GFEMS again because new direction, GFEMS’ strategic reset is really addressing that. But those of us getting federal funding or funding from from funders that aren’t that thoughtful and intentional about this yet or are trying to or are scared to let go of some of the control over what happens. It’s hard for us to do the work right. So this is another thing is give yourself grace because this isn’t about you or your organization’s quality. This is about us kind of having to swim upstream in a system that’s meant to push us down.
Adam: [01:29:47] Yeah, as someone who’s participating in that process, it has been really eye opening and thank you guys for your reflections on it. I got one last question to close off this part of the panel. If there was one thing you’d like to leave this audience with, what would it be? I’m going to ask each panelist this Rosette, if you wouldn’t mind getting us started. Or is that you might be on mute?
Rosette: [01:30:16] Can someone start first? I was, I’m not ready.
Adam: [01:30:21] Okay, sure.
Suamhirs: [01:30:26] Yeah. If I look. The reality is that we’re here to – This is a call to action, right? This is the call to action for you to come back to your organization, do this assessment, engage. Be honest with yourself and be there. Be a one with us. The reality is that we are here to say, okay, 20 years have passed by. Yes, we understand. We have made some movement. Yet this is what a movement looks like. This is what it truly survivor-led movement looks like. And it requires it requires you participation. Survivor engagement requires your buy-in. And this is how you buy into it. It doesn’t require money. It requires you commitment. It requires you be present and it requires you actually doing this work with your organization, with your teams, and commit to to see survivors as much more than their experience and not as a token or as a way to show how good you are at work, but as the way to see how do we — it’s really about… It’s not about us folks. Let’s remove ourselves out of our equation as much as we can and then what will be in front of us if the person as the people that we’re trying to support every single day. Remove yourself out of that question. Do not let your emotions overpower your intelligence.
Suamhirs: [01:31:45] The same thing with politics. Do not let those overpower your intelligence and vote wisely. Because at the end of that, at the end of the day, it does come back. And we saw that. We saw changes over the last administration to how human trafficking was addressed. And today we’re still unpeeling all of that. We have four years that we need to undo, if you ask me as a survivor and perhaps will get me out of any other panel in the future, is that we do need to undo the last four years of the last administration. And this comes with with two things. Honestly, we have to undo the damage that was done to the survivor community because there was a lot of damage. And that’s actually a really great question about how do we work with people with different or opposing views. And the reality is that we’re not there about the politics. We are there to listen to them and really lift up their voices. It doesn’t matter whether if they believe in a human rights approach or an end demand approach, whatever that looks like, it’s about bringing people together and respecting the rights of individuals and creating a system they’re fully accustomed to the people with lived experience, and it’s not for us, it’s for them.
Rosette: [01:32:52] And can you repeat the question.
Adam: [01:32:55] Just one thing you’d like to leave the audience with. If there’s just one thing, it can be anything. What would you like it to be?
Rosette: [01:33:03] Our first of all, want to thank the audience for their time and for taking time to come and listen to this powerful message. I really believe that they will – when you go back, that you will not remain the same and they will request that you you adopt the toolkit and they also call upon you, fellow people with the lived experience to come out and be vibrant because we have to be vibrant ourselves into the movement before people will know that we can work. So for the people who are people with lived experience in the audience: This is our time. For people who are not with the lived experience. Please, we are ready to work with you to end human trafficking. Thank you.
Adam: [01:33:58] Thanks. Wade?
Wade: [01:34:04] I’ve been asking myself for a week, preparing for this. Am I going to be that guy? Am I going to be that guy? How am I going to what is this question? How do I want to respond? So, yeah, I think the one thing is first, the assessment is the is the beginning. And if we’re all going to do that and realize how much work we have to do when we do that, if we choose to do it, particularly together, reach out to the partner organizations that you work with and come back and you all see the findings of where you are. That is actually how funding changes because you can go back and say, Here’s what the need is. And when the need matches across, it makes it a lot easier to show the importance. So that’s the first part. And the second part is – Suamhirs says it doesn’t take money, and I think it does. I don’t work for GFEMS, so this is like just literally just me being me saying this, but this the work that was put into this, the time that was put into this, the intention that was put into all of this, that’s the beginning. But the implementation piece is the part that’s going to be hard and to be able to implement this is going to cost money if it’s going to be intentional. And so I think we I want to ask, you know, for organizations, you know, if you are funding organizations, if you’re not if you work with funders, work to bring people to the table. My ask is that you bring to the table when you are working with funders. That’s my that’s my ask. I was the guy.
Adam: [01:35:43] I think that’s a pretty good guy to be. Chris?
Chris: [01:35:47] So I think for me, the thing that I want to leave everyone with is we’re already doing the work. We’re just doing it out of our own pockets a lot of the times and unsupported and unseen. And these should not be parallel tracks where the survivors who know other survivors to text when they need support network operates separately from the amount of funding and organizational infrastructure that is out there to address this issue alongside us where we’re already doing it. We want to help all of us. We want to bring these tracks together. We want to like align what we’re doing so that those people who are already doing the work from their lived experience leadership and from their hearts and their their passion are better supported and are better integrated into this sector and taking the lead in the sector. I also want to mention, as you all know, in the US there was an OVC survivor engagement to grant that went out recently and we’ve been in close collaboration, Wade and I both, with ICF. And so those of you if you’re watching this or if you’re here in the room and you’re an OVC grantee, reach out for TA and implementing this. Be like, Hey, we have this toolkit we’re working on like practicing it, but we kind of need a coach in our corner because ICF is going to be partnering with people who have lived experience, who are prepared to support you in moving up that ladder across the US that can support you in that. I know Sophie and I have been in conversations about making sure that we have support for orgs that want to do this, So reach out for that support because I mean, we all need a coach. We all need someone in our corner cheering us on and helping us break down the parts where we’re getting stuck.
Grace: [01:37:42] And I would just say, I think we all recognize that there’s no part of our work that wouldn’t be better or improved by lived experience, leadership. But so for the allies in the room, I think our commitment to this work really starts by decentering ourselves. We have already talked about how we’ve been talking about this topic, this type of effort for years now. And if we really want to meaningfully shift that power paradigm that has dominated the field, it starts with us making that intentional commitment to decenter ourselves from the conversation to not always have to be the ones in the driver’s seat at the leadership role and uplifting alongside you those with lived experience in order to actually sincerely pursue the meaningful inclusion of lived experience. So for our allies, just just that note on decentering ourselves.
Adam: [01:38:44] All right, thanks. I want to open it up now as an audience questions. My colleagues Tasnem and Angela are going to be circulating with mics. So if you have a question, please just flag them down. My colleague Allison will be reading questions from the chat if you’re participating with us virtually. So I will open the floor. Allison, if you’ve got a question ready to go, feel free to read it off. And Tasnim and Angela are circling.
Chris: [01:39:10] Can we get a mic near Allison?
Allison: [01:39:22] So one of the questions that came in in the chat is, is there a plan for rolling out the toolkit or is it something that would just be adopted and used by organizations who are willing.
Chris: [01:39:36] I can take that one. So we tried to design it such that it can be a stand alone resource. We even included a whole section in there explaining what evaluation is for people who don’t have a lot of organizational infrastructure and support. I will also say we’re – as I mentioned earlier, we are in talks with ICF about providing US-based training and technical assistance. There are going to be consultants from both Survivor Alliance and the National Survivor Network who are going to be available to work with local programs working through this. We’re going to have additional trainings and follow-up. You all know those of you who have known me for very long know that I love training. Just give me an excuse to make a training and I’m on it. I love it. So I’m sure the NSN will be putting out a lot of training over the coming year about it. The other thing that’s kind of interesting is we – Grace and I had conversations and actually used a Creative Commons ShareAlike Attribution, Non-Commercial license on it. What that means is if you want to use it for commercial purposes, to go make money off of it, to reproduce whole sections of it and charge for it, you cannot. But if you’re like, This is cool, I’m going to make a training about the spectrum of survivor engagement. I have lived experience and I want to take these concepts. I want to go out and be teaching my community about the spectrum. You can do that as long as you’re not like republishing pieces of it and charging for it.
Chris: [01:41:10] We want to open source -I keep joking, some of y’all will find this funny and some of you may not find it as funny, the survivors will all laugh – but I keep joking that the NSN’s mission right now is to open source the survivor takeover of the movement. And this is what we want to do. We want to make sure that we’re giving everybody the tools that are accessible. So those of you who have lived experience and do consulting or work in this field, take a look at it, because people are going to be asking for additional support about it. And if you need to reach out to me for any guidance on like what we mean or if there’s challenges, I am totally there for you to help you support as someone with lived experience, to help you support other organizations that you regularly work with to implement this.
Sophie: [01:42:01] I just wanted to add that in terms of rolling out for GFEMS, part of the work that we are going to do under the Pillar, creating a survivor-centric movement, building and creating survivor centered environment, the plan is actually working with organizations to build capacity using this. So the plan to roll out is actually with the new strategy, we will be actively working with organizations using this tool to build their capacity and ensure that, you know, this is one of the priorities.
Chris: [01:42:31] Thanks, Sophie.
Adam: [01:42:34] I think there’s a question on this end of the room.
Attendee: [01:42:38] So I’m Chris Bates. I am a consultant with the Massachusetts Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission. I’m also an NSN member. And I would I guess my question is. What I’m finding through a project that I did about young adults that exchange sex to meet their needs study, and we came up with some finding and recommendations inthe state of Massachusetts is that there’s often a big experience of young people being exploited and trafficked as well as exchanging sex “consensually.” Do you think that it’s important that this is implemented in the youth homelessness world or. Yeah. How can we go about supporting that?
Wade: [01:43:37] I think that when we think about trafficking and who’s vulnerable to trafficking, homelessness is a high vulnerability. So I think when we think about that, you know, that specifically, anybody who does not have their basic needs met is is at risk. Because when somebody is able to provide a basic need that you need to survive and you don’t have other options, then yeah. So I mean, I think my direct answer would be, of course, I think there’s a lot of overlap there. And I think it’s completely applicable. And as far as US-based goes, when it comes to, you know, the legal definition of trafficking, even if you have minors who are under the age of 18, even if they are “consensually” engaging in commercial sex to meet their needs, it is still considered human trafficking. So I think in that direct sense, it’s absolutely, you know, the definition.
Chris: [01:44:31] Yeah. And I would also add that the way we’ve written it, it’s specific to trafficking, but when y’all start digging into it, you’ll realize that you can swap out that lived experience for a whole lot of different experiences that people may have. I know I mentioned earlier, I refer to it sometimes as trafficking-adjacent experiences. And I think that there’s a lot of room to kind of take some of the insights from it and use it in a lot of different settings. Like I know with youth homelessness specifically, I know that there’s a lot of really cool groups that are actually formerly homeless, young adult advocates who are doing that work and listening to those youth voices is modeling that lived experience leadership.
Suamhirs: [01:45:17] If I can just add something. Covenant House actually put out a really great research on the intersections of youth, runaway youth and homeless youth. It’s actually every year they’re still update those numbers. The first one that they put out was 2017. I believe that at that time they found one in five youth who are unhoused or run away or experience either labor or sex trafficking, which was interesting. Labor trafficking seemed to be one of the the one of the things that are primarily how homeless youth are being forced to work against their will anywhere from… In California it is interesting, we see anywhere so many other things that are put homeless unhoused youth at perhaps at a higher risk of human trafficking. And I think that I recommend that you look at that research by Covenant House. It’s a really good paper and talks about those intersections and how to work and how to support youth, how to set up programming with the mind of working with unhoused youth and supporting them and lowering the vulnerability to trafficking.
Grace: [01:46:34] Think we’ll have time for one last question, please.
Adam: [01:46:40] Alison. Two Last questions. Okay.
Attendee: [01:46:53] Um. Hi. My name is Shamari White. So my question is based on our earlier comments about engagement funding and lifting up the voices of survivors. What are your thoughts on the media framing of survivor organizations, and what suggestions do you have on how the media can do better to uplift survivor voices and the need for funding for survivor-led and allied organizations? Sorry, that was a mouthful.
Adam: [01:47:17] Chris, It seems like you have some thoughts.
Chris: [01:47:18] You’re my new favorite person. I don’t know. I think that… So I think that a few things media and fundraising tend to have something in common in that they they benefit, like just the way that it’s structured, you benefit from more sensationalized representations, right? You get higher ratings, you get more readership in the media. If you have sensationalized representations with fundraising, a lot of times donors get so uncomfortable with hearing all of this horrible things that they just want to give you all of their money to make it go away so they can quit feeling uncomfortable and so that they can then have some degree of ownership over that person’s story and success. Because I made it happen, right? These sensationalized stories get like elevated and normalized, but at the same time, those end up perpetuating bias and stereotypes.
Chris: [01:48:13] And so, I’m just curious, like for me, and I don’t have an answer, right? But I’m always curious, how can we tell the story of trafficking, the story of the work that’s being done, the story of survivor organizing without leaning into that sensationalism of telling… I mean, obviously, many individual survivors want to share their stories, but some don’t. And there’s still a story there to tell. There’s the story to tell about how survivors are organizing to meet each other’s needs. There’s the story to tell about how an organization started out at a one on the spectrum and is working their way towards higher and higher levels and finding benefit as they do. Like, I think just leaning away from the sensationalism.
Chris: [01:48:58] And the other thing I would say is if you are a journalist who wants to engage with someone who has lived experience, before you engage with them, If someone agrees to speak with you,double-checkk and see. Have you had any training? Not just on how well-spoken you are, but have you had training like really navigating some of the power dynamics that can happen when a journalist with a fancy media outlet is talking to you? Do you have any training on saying things like, “Well, you know what, I’m not willing to talk about that. But what I can tell you is…” Do you have any training on redirecting it? And then if they say no, say, “hold up. As much as I would love to put you out there. Here’s a fact sheet I’d like to share with you first and just review that, because I really want to make sure that we’re coming to this as partners and that there’s not a power dynamic.”
Chris: [01:49:51] I know that NSN is actually working right now with The Irina Project, which is a program out of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media or something. Maybe I didn’t get the name right, but we’re working with them right now and with a member of the NSN who’s a New York Times-published journalist who also has lived experience. And we’re going to be partnering to create fact sheets and that training for survivors because right now, when they put us in front of people, they’re like, “do you have training on appearing polished?” But they don’t say, “Do you have training on feeling like you can hold your own when someone’s asking you about this stuff and you’re starting to feel intimidated,” right? Then you get triggered and then you get dissociated. And when you get dissociated, all of a sudden you’re saying things to that journalist that you’ve never even told your therapist. And that’s not a good place to find yourself in. And you may in that moment just keep going. But boy, when you get home that night, you’re going to feel sick. And so I think just being thoughtful about that dynamic.
Suamhirs: [01:50:59] I know we are short on time, but I do want to say a quick 30 seconds on my part on that question. I thought I really wish I can see your face and you also my next favorite person in D.C. I do think that this is a really starts with us. However, I would say, well, I think that there is also a part of where we can have skilled survivors to talk to media but actually I would dare to say that over 50% of what we see in the media are stories that come from victim service providers who pitch those to local media. So we pitch them already with the hypersensationalized, these are the sad stories that we can tell you rather than the empowerment that comes associated with someone. So I think that and we see that, right? Because we tend to focus on numbers, the number of people we can serve, but that doesn’t matter if people are not better as a result of the services you provide. And I think that’s where we that’s where I also while I do think that we can have survivors kind of upskill ourselves to perhaps have a really good and educate folks in the media, but also the agencies themselves need to really take a step back and understand, okay, like what am I trying to say and why and how how is this going to play out? Because the reality is the last thing we want to do and wind up in the media is trauma porn, salacious details, and gratuitous case notes that should have never left that office, right?
Suamhirs: [01:52:26] And that’s where we are. What we need to hear is how people are better off as a result of their services. And that is where we can focus, because it can be that somebody who doesn’t want to talk about their experience, not completely out of their experience, but may want to talk about being awesome and being and doing great work despite of the things that perhaps hold us back in here and are now perhaps leading programs for doing some amazing work. Anyways, it also is at the agency level.
Adam: [01:52:53] Okay. We’ll close with one final question from the chat. Thanks, guys.
Allison: [01:52:59] So the question is, does the tool kit kit address how organizations and allies can move passing persons with lived experience as just survivors and viewing them as professionals and experts in their own right?
Chris: [01:53:14] Yes. Lot to say about that. But the short answer is yes.
Adam: [01:53:25] Two very strong questions to end on. The tool kit should be live by the time we all leave this room. Please check it out. We have a lot in the toolkit, as Chris said about that very subject. I’d like to thank everybody for listening to the panel. I’d like to thank the panelists once more. Shout out for swarm errors. A lot of work through the fire alarm, and I’d like to invite Sophie to give some closing remarks. Thanks, everybody.
Sophie: [01:54:08] Thank you so much, everyone for coming, for being patient and for being here. I’m really, really happy that finally we managed to do this. And finally you’ve had the work that we were doing. I’d like to close with a poem that I wrote. For those of you who know, I also move around as a poet, and just for us to think about one in thinking about different future and too in thinking about because I believe the story of difference is the story of this sector that is about to become a movement, right? And this is a poem I wrote last year in September when I was thinking about the work that we are doing and what actually hinders us from doing the work. It’s called What Makes You Uncomfortable?
Sophie: [01:55:02] tell me, what makes you uncomfortable? / what makes your hair stand in fear / fear that you cannot articulate / tell me what makes you uncomfortable? / what tightens your gut / and makes you lose your words? / tell me, what makes you uncomfortable? / when we gather / when we commune / when we try to make this space ours rather than mine / when we attempt to build that which is ours? / tell me what makes you uncomfortable?
Sophie: [01:55:29] And that’s the question that I would want to leave us with. I think one of the things that I’ve realized in our space is this idea of discomfort. Like, we really, really are afraid of being uncomfortable. We are afraid of not knowing. We are afraid of… Just afraid. We are. We are. We are. We are space that is afraid of talking about difficult things. And the shift to our movement is not going to happen unless all of us are really, really, truly willing to come on the journey of being uncomfortable. And that journey of being uncomfortable is a journey that people with lived experience know all too well. Because I can tell you for a fact, consistently, every day, every second, most of us live in that space where we are always, most of the time uncomfortable. We know what it feels like.
Sophie: [01:56:25] So please join us in this discomfort because the only way we get rid of this discomfort is by being able to sit together, to breathe, to be uncomfortable together in terms of what’s next. I know many are asking, what’s next? Please reach out to us. Reach out to NSN. Reach out to your friends. We really are willing to walk with you on this journey of figuring it out. Reach out to us. Reach out to people again to do something. This is not something that we can be able to do alone. So I’m really looking at donors, partners, anybody that wants to come with us. This is a call for you to join us and watch this space. There’s more to come, and I will be knocking on your door. Yes, I’ll be knocking on your door. Please don’t get annoyed. And please, thank you, again. Thank you so much for most of all, for listening to us and for being present. And I would also love to note really there’s a lot of work went behind the scenes. The GFEMS team from the bottom of my heart, tank you. Thank you so, so much. You are some of the most amazing human beings I know. It’s really been uncomfortable and painful to to shut down one organization and build another one at the same time. And you’ve been fantastic in doing this. I don’t think I would have been able to choose a better team to do this with. And I truly hope that I continue being the leader that you deserve. Thank you.
Grace: [01:58:32] So as noted, as we’ve said, the toolkit is available online. We had hoped to have printed copies, but unfortunately we did not quite make that deadline. So please check it out and thank you for your attention. And the reception is just outside this door. We hope you are able to stay and chat with us a little bit.