Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Devine.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I first learned about sex trafficking when I was 13 years old. That was the first time I had ever even heard of the issue. I didn’t understand much about it then, but I remember feeling wrecked. I remember having this feeling in the pit of my stomach that was pure disgust and anger and deep sorrow. I remember sitting there in those feelings, and deciding in that moment that I was going to commit the rest of my life to make the world a better place for women. I was not going to rest until egregious crimes and injustices were eradicated.
From there, I started a club on my high school campus that focused on awareness and advocacy among students. Most of our club meetings were informative and educational, and we had speakers come and present on the issue of sex trafficking and talk about what that looked like around the world.
Then, when I was 16 years old, I was invited by an anti-trafficking non-profit to travel to Ethiopia and work in the safe homes, participate in ministry and outreach, help with classes in the recovery programs, and visit the brothels of the Red Light District where we did outreach with currently trafficked and exploited women.
That trip to Ethiopia rocked my entire life. It was gut-wrenching and just plain hard. It was also some of the most intense joy I’ve experienced. It was humbling and overwhelming and so beyond beautiful all at once. I spent most of my time in Ethiopia with survivors of sex trafficking, and they were so bold and strong and courageous. I think the best part of being in the safe homes was all the laughter and singing and dancing. It is truly a reminder of the resiliency of the human spirit.
When I went off to college, I geared my studies around international human rights, non-profit work, and women’s rights issues on a global scale. I received my degree in International Studies, with an emphasis in Peace Studies and a concentration in African Studies. Throughout college, I researched issues ranging from maternal mortality to obstetric fistulas in women in Sub-Saharan Africa, to the Palestinian Feminist movement and sex trafficking rehabilitation programs in Thailand. I spent the Spring of 2016 living in Nepal, where I conducted an independent research project on the effectiveness of aftercare programs for survivors of sexual exploitation in that country.
My research was published by my program, and later presented at conferences at Notre Dame and Point Loma Nazarene University, and it won numerous research awards. I had volunteered and interned at GenerateHope during my undergrad, and after graduation, I came onto the full-time staff. I never thought I would have this opportunity, but it has been such a gift and such an answered prayer. My job mainly focuses on community outreach and development.
So I do a lot of public speaking in the community on what sex trafficking is, and also help develop relationships with partners and individuals who want to support our mission. My greatest joy is spending time with survivors, and sharing in life and friendship and watching them just absolutely crush their goals and dreams.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think any road in life is smooth, but if it’s bumpy, it’s usually worth it! I feel like my road has not ended yet – rather I’m right in the middle of it. I’m still really young, and I feel like I have a lot of roads ahead of me, which is a wonderful thing.
I’d say one of the biggest struggles of this journey has been learning how to work in such an intense field. I work in a high trauma job, and it has been a process to learn how to cope and deal with the reality of it all. I have so much empathy for people, and it’s hard to wrestle with questions of how humans can be so cruel to one another. When I hear someone’s story, I recognize that it’s such an honor and a privilege to be let into such a sacred space. I don’t take that lightly. So I try really hard to take good care of myself and practice good self-care, so I can best serve the people around me.
Ultimately, I feel like I’m still very much on this road, and it is certainly not all figured out! But it is a worthy road for sure.
GenerateHope – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
GenerateHope is a 501c3 non-profit organization, and we run a long-term safe house and recovery program for survivors of sex trafficking. We have a residential home that has the capacity for 6 women, and we have 2 house moms that live in the home full time.
We offer academics, psychotherapy, case management services, adjunct therapy, and a safe, family-like environment.
Our credentialed teacher on staff runs the academics in our program. The women attend day program Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm, and it really focuses on scholarship and goal setting. We work with each woman individually on her career and vocational goals, and then help her take those next steps in reaching those goals. We meet each woman where she is at. Our women are working towards college and higher education, specific career tracks, apprenticeships, and more.
Another major component of our program is psychotherapy. We offer individual and group therapy that really focuses on working through the trauma in their life. As you can imagine, the women we work with have experienced some of the most intense forms of trauma and deal with high levels of PTSD.
Our case manager helps the women access social services. She connects our women with access to medical care, dental care, optometry services, EBT, and more. She also works with the women on setting goals each week that focus on aspects of the program they are seeking to grow in.
Adjunct Therapy is a part of our program that incorporates things like yoga, dance, art, poetry, and other activities that are both therapeutic and fun. These are our “lighter” therapies that still provide immense benefit, but are not as heavy as a psychotherapy group.
As an organization, GenerateHope is most proud of our holistic approach to recovery. We really look at mind, body, spirit, and soul. We believe all of those areas are essential in full healing. Our goal is empowerment, and everything we do aims to empower and enable these women to be the fullest, healthiest version of themselves and fully live into their God-given worth.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I value people. I believe that people are valuable and worthy of dignity and I want to make sure that disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed people are fought for, heard, and held up as important.
I hope that in my work, and in my pursuit of justice, I will never lose my empathy and never forget that at the end of the day, loving your neighbor is the most important thing. I want to love people well and glorify God in all that I do. If I can do those two things, then that is success to me.
- Website: www.GenerateHope.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/generate.hope