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Sanctuary Spring
Our Cardmakers

Meet our cardmakers.

Our cardmakers utilize pseudonyms to protect their identities. Click on a name to jump to her story.

Aiza
Crystal
Fredda
Gelyn
Jasmine
Jemela
Loran
Merry
Queenie
Rhea
Wellyn

Aiza's Story

Aiza has always struggled to believe that the future could get better. But working on Sanctuary Spring is helping her to hope and dream of new possibilities.

As the eldest of four siblings, Aiza was expected to provide for the rest of her family. She moved out and began working as a prostitute to earn money for her family. After living on the streets for a few years, a friend introduced her to the charity that produces Sanctuary Spring. She spent her days with women escaping prostitution, but would still work on the streets at night because she couldn't imagine how her life could improve. It took six months, but Aiza finally became convinced. She says, "When I realized I had a chance for a better life, I completely left my other life."

Making Sanctuary Spring cards with other women has kept her busy and helped her cope with the hardships she endured while on the streets. The women not only are friends to each other, they also work in teams. Says Aiza, "We work in groups to find who is best at certain tasks."

Participating in dignifying work is increasing Aiza's self-confidence. "I focus wholeheartedly on the work, because it is not just about making a card, but making something beautiful. Making the cards brings out my creativity." Aiza has also been able to apply the skills she has learned on other projects as well. "I take the training very seriously and have been able to use all the training I've received."

Now this more-confident Aiza is beginning to see new opportunities that she would have never thought possible before. She hopes to build upon the skills she has learned from making card and go back to school to become a fashion and jewelry designer.

"I've realized that I have something in me that others can't do – I have a unique gift."

Crystal's Story

Until recently, the majority of Crystal's life was marked by chaos. Financial and health problems forced her to drop out of school when she was 13 and, with money scarce, she soon found herself selling her body at a local bar.

This was a very dark experience, and she was thrust into a self-destructive environment where she began to gamble. She worked at the bar for years.

But a street outreach team started talking to her and helped her see that a different life was possible. With the help of these people, Crystal was able to leave that bar and made a commitment to never go back there.

Making cards for Sanctuary Spring makes Crystal happy and she has lost her previous inclination to gamble. She is working toward a high school equivalency degree and enjoys living an orderly, productive life. One of her biggest dreams consists of living a happy, peaceful life with her family. Another dream is to make sure her children complete their education. Because she left school at 13, she wants to avoid this fate for her children. "Working with the cards gives me a new hope of achieving my dreams."

Her favorite card is the Batik Peace Dove card. "Sometimes," Crystal says, "I find myself talking to the card, begging that peace be given to my family."

Fredda's Story

With a recently widowed mother, money ran short in Fredda's life. Fredda was only able to finish her second hear of high school before she had to drop out because of the financial difficulties her family faced. She turned to selling her body at a local bar.

Because of the compromising circumstances Fredda experienced at the bar, compassion wasn't a gift others offered her very frequently. She became hardened to people, treating others harshly. Fortunately she accepted an invitation to join a community of people who shared her background and she left the bar looking for a fresh start.

She has developed deep friendships in just a year's time, finding understanding ears from people who have been through what she's been through, because of this welcoming community, Fredda has grown in her desire to be more gentle and considerate. In crafting cards for Sanctuary Spring she has learned discipline and responsibility, especially when it comes to work. She enjoys crafting the cards because the work "is very challenging and amazing" all at the same time. Fredda dreams of becoming of a chef or a veterinarian, but her true dreams are that her children would be able to finish school: "My priority is my children and not myself."

Gelyn's Story

Like many families, Gelyn's family moved from the countryside to Metro Manila in 1989 to look for more opportunities. Unfortunately, like many families, the promise of a better life in the big city never became reality. Gelyn's family struggled to find enough to eat, and she was forced to drop out of school, having only finished sixth grade.

Gelyn had no choice but to support her family by entering into prostitution at local bar.

Fortunately, Gelyn is now making cards for Sanctuary Spring and never intends to go back to a bar again. She has enjoyed finding community among the other womens who are making cards, as well as engaging in cooking and other forms of training. Given her background, Gelyn also wants to keep herself healthy so as to not burden her family.

Although her parents couldn't provide for her, Gelyn is now earning strong wages by handcrafting greeting cards, allowing her to keep her children in school and provide for them. Gelyn also her own dreams to open her own store, but for now she's perfectly happy providing her children the opportunity she never had. "I still have the same dreams," says Gelyn. "But just like other parents, my priority for now is my children's education."

Jasmine's Story

Empowerment and self-worth are relatively new things for Jasmine. From an early age, she could not think of her own needs in order to meet the financial obligations of her family. Now that she's making cards for Sanctuary Spring, Jasmine is discovering her true worth as a woman.

Jasmine grew up in the Philippines as the eldest of four children, dreaming of becoming a nursing assistant. But in order to support her family, Jasmine quit college and moved to Japan. She worked as a prostitute and sent money back to her family. After three months, her employer was arrested, and Jasmine was deported home. Further fueling her disempowerment, Jasmine's mother urged her to find a way to return to Japan, because any job there would pay higher than work in the Philippines.

Jasmine decided to stay, working at a local factory, but had to quit when she became pregnant with her daughter. At this point she also escaped an abusive relationship and sought a new beginning for her life.

Jasmine's life has changed drastically since she joined the charity that produces Sanctuary Spring cards. She is thankful not only for the card making skills she has acquired, but also many other life lessons. "I have learned a lot, especially about how to get along with people who are different from me." Cardmaking has taught her how to receive and give encouragement to the other women working alongside her. "I have also learned discipline through focusing on making cards well."

Making cards for Sanctuary Spring has been more than a job that pays wages for Jasmine. "Above all, I am learning hope and transformation from the darkness of my past. I have seen the value of women and my thinking has changed about how a woman should speak, think and live."

Jemela's Story

Jemela's life changed completely when her mother got sick.

Her family was forced to sell their home, and Jemela moved out to work and financially support her family. Because of Jemela's young age, she was only able to find temporary, short-term jobs. She spent much of her time working at schools, cleaning and helping with the children. But this was not sustainable, so Jemela went so far as to look for jobs in other countries. When she found nothing, Jemela had to return home in hopes of finding something.

Jemela was delighted when her sister-in-law found a job for her to work as a waitress. However, it wasn't until her first night of work until she realized she had been tricked into prostitution. Jemela was forced to sell her body every night in order to make ends meet for her family. It was during this period of time at the bar that she became pregnant with her daughter.

After many months of seemingly endless nights of work, Jemela joined her neighbor and friend and began making cards for Sanctuary Spring. "Being here has helped me a lot. I like learning new things in training." Jemela now participates in dignifying work and earns a steady income to support herself. She is able to express her creativity through cardmaking. "I also learned how to sew," says Jemela "Learning to sew had always been one of my dreams, so I am happy." Jemela and the other women empower one another and cultivate an environment for growth.

Instead of constant dread, Jemela now finds joy each day in making beautiful cards. "I want to stay and learn even more."

Loran's Story

Despite experiencing hardship from early in her youth, Loran is now able to dream about the future because she is making Sanctuary Spring cards.

Loran was only nine years old when her mother passed away. Soon after, her father abandoned the family, leaving her and her older sister in charge of their eight younger siblings. She was forced to abandon her studies, home and dreams to earn money to support her family. After moving out of her home, Loran scrambled to find work. For six months, she earned a small income working as a babysitter. However, the amount she earned was not enough to support her big family. At age 15, she was forced to turn toward prostitution.

Each night of work was painful and felt endless. She continued to harbor much bitterness from her mother's death. Her dream of receiving an education grew dimmer every day. She remained in prostitution for three years.

Loran's life has been transformed since she began making cards for Sanctuary Spring. She now earns a steady income and participates in dignifying work. "At first, making the cards was hard. But because of the gradual change in my heart and mind, I am able to focus on the bigger picture and enjoy the work." She has saved enough money to send her two daughters to school.

Loran's dreams for the future have been restored. "I no longer cry when I speak of my past." Through her work, Loran has She hopes to expand on her card-making skill set to manage her own store. More than hope for her own life, she has hope for her daughters, and looks forward to seeing them both of them finish school.

"I encourage them to dream big."

Merry's Story

Merry has always had a heart for caring for those around her, but she didn't imagine it would require her to quit school and work in prostitution to support her family. Unfortunately the urgency of her family's needs demanded this.

Even still, Merry received very little money and could still not meet the basic living expenses of her mother, father, and three siblings. A close friend encouraged Merry to look for a better alternative when an NGO offered a dental check up and some free groceries. She was also offered the opportunity to start a new life by making Sanctuary Spring cards.

Merry has since gone back to school and earns more money through cardmaking than she had ever received in the brothel. Furthermore, surrounded by people with a similar background to hers, Merry feels at peace and at home. "It is a safe place for me," Merry continues. "Being part of the fellowship and sharing each other's experiences helps me see that openness and honesty to each other is important." Merry now believes in herself and her ability to make wonderful pieces of art through the cards. Merry dreams of having her own business, and she sees her present role as a temporary launching pad on which she can save for her future and the future of her son. Merry continues to wish that her son will be able to finish school, but now she feels empowered to be truly able to care for those she loves.

Queenie's Story

In a twist of fate, Queenie's life changed for the better just over a year ago. Having dropped out of high school at age 15, Queenie found herself stuck in prostitution in Tarlac, a province away from her four siblings and single mother. One day she was back home visiting her family, but she found herself without bus fare to go back to Tarlac.

Queenie decided she would never go back.

She started making cards at Sanctuary Spring and found a community of people with a similar background to hers and that supports her in all the places she wishes to go. Queenie's dreams have been revived since starting to make cards and she now believes again that she can become a business woman. Queenie has resumed her education and is working on her high school equivalency. She has learned to master the art of crafts and particularly likes making the Cherry Blossom Mother's Day card because the meticulous process reminds her of her mother. "Making cards entails a lot of patience and determination, so it has taught me to be more patient and determined in all my endeavors." Queenie has made authentic connections through cardmaking and she wishes to create the same opportunities for others. Because Queenie's gained so much, another of her dreams now is to “to immerse myself with the poor” and bring hope to women like herself.

Rhea's Story

Abandoned by her mother at age 7, Rhea grew up with her grandmother and raised her sisters practically by herself. The financial hardships her family experienced led her to believe her only choice was to sell herself to support her siblings.

She felt empty and alone until she saw encountered a street outreach team offering free medical and dental services in Manila. They also offered her a way out through a holistic restoration program with other women like herself.

In the program, Rhea is now able to slow down her life and explore her emptiness. And she has realized that she deeply longs for a family she can call her own. At first, she joined the program out of curiosity, but now shares, "I like all the activities here including the fellowship, the cooking, the back to school (high-school equivalency) program, and much more. I also have gained a lot of friends."

She is also happily making greeting cards for Sanctuary Spring, and enjoys finding quiet time in the off-work hours. The practice of making cards was hard at first for Rhea, but she can see how it has taught her patience. "I am happy because now I have a decent source of income and can sustain my daily needs," she shares. Sanctuary Spring has helped fill the emptiness in Rhea's life and she now dreams of owning a small restaurant. The empowerment and support she has received have revived her dreams of finishing her schooling and embracing a future full of potential.

Wellyn's Story

The eldest of many siblings, Wellyn had no choice but to work in a brothel to raise money to support her family. In fact, all her siblings had worked in the brothel in one way or another, but they never had enough money to live safe and secure lives.

Wellyn had tried to go to school at the same time, but her high school career was cut short when she discovered she was pregnant. At that point, Wellyn realized that she needed a change, and friends told her what was possible if she started making cards for Sanctuary Spring at a local NGO. She decided to find out what this opportunity could offer her.

Now Wellyn considers her new life a blessing because she is employed and her family doesn't have the financial difficulties that had led her to sacrifice so much to begin with. In addition, she feels empowered to take on more work outside, such as catering and assisting with house care. Wellyn dreams of owning her own home, helping her children finish school, perhaps even opening a mini grocery or flower shop. The possibilities in Wellyn's life continue to unfold because of the freedom she has received.

 

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We exclusively employ cardmakers who are escaping prostitution and seeking to new life for themselves and their families.

We exclusively employ cardmakers who are escaping prostitution and seeking to new life for themselves and their families.