"You are a miracle"

Working at Starfish – never a dull moment.

My involvement at Starfish started 14 years ago when I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler. I was invited to join an outreach worker in going to the brothels for a visit. One late afternoon, with my son in the baby carrier, I hopped on my bike and traveled to an urban village a few miles away. The outreach worker and I walked into a brothel and started chatting. That day, I found a new friend, Xin Xin, a 7-month pregnant woman who was trying to survive in the only way she knew how.

After that, I went back to the same area for weekly visits with the team. We tried to say hi to the same women at least once a month, and we organized special events every quarter and a spring outing with good food and games every year. I witnessed so many women, one after another – including Xin Xin! – coming out to join Starfish Project, and then friends going back and bringing more friends to come.

Working at Starfish – never a dull moment.

The transition from mainly focusing on outreach to providing one-on-one counseling was not something I expected. However, over the years of working with the survivors, I have learned more about trauma – how valuable it is to intentionally journey with them, and to create a safe space for them to have deep and meaningful conversations.

I sometimes joke with them that my job is to be the ‘Kleenex dispenser.’ Each survivor is unique, but every story shows incredible courage.

I got the chance to hear numerous stories from the survivors. I was able to bear the burden as they shared their trauma history as I walked the journey of integration and recovery with them. Many times, there were tears, but also laughter. I sometimes joke with them that my job is to be the ‘Kleenex dispenser.’ Each survivor is unique, but every story shows incredible courage. To protect their privacy, I am unable to share specific stories, but I can tell you my response each time – ‘I am amazed that you are alive today. You are a miracle.’  

I am privileged to have witnessed drastic transformation in these survivors’ lives over the years. Someone who used to be numb and distant has become a woman who can tell jokes and lead team-building activities with ease. Someone who thought about ending her life multiple times has become a departmental leader who cheers people on not to give up. Someone who was always angry and agitated has become a woman who speaks with gentleness and embraces other’s shortcomings. And, of course, because of these individual changes, seemingly unmendable relationships have been reconciled.

The changes in these survivors’ lives are not the result of my effective counseling; instead, it is the community that we have built at Starfish Project. No matter our job titles, from volunteer to production worker to marketing graphic designer, everyone is working towards one goal – that each woman feels valued and empowered.  

And breakthroughs happen!

Thank you for supporting Starfish Project. Our heart and our vision have not changed over the years – drawing women in, one at a time, to experience freedom.

- Starfish Project Volunteer

With your purchases, we are able to provide women with dignified jobs in a safe community that supports their mental health. Your purchase restores hope. Thank you!