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Nuns Offer Different Sort of Sanctuary in Opening New Crisis Center in Manila

Survivors were often taken to a random government building or back to the police station—not an ideal setting to open up and share difficult details of abuse.

Thanks to a generous group of nuns, girls rescued from human trafficking now have a safe place to go immediately after rescue.

In early September, a large group of police in uniforms, nuns and priests in habits, and IJM staff in suits gathered at a secret location that is now a Survivor Center for victims of human trafficking.

The nuns offered up this building earlier this year after learning about this critical, very pragmatic need from IJM’s church mobilization team. In August, the Philippines government signed an agreement with the nuns to use the space as an official Survivor Center, the location where girls will receive care and conduct interviews after an anti-trafficking rescue operation.

When IJM Senior Attorney Lisa Guevara-Garcia first visited, she said, “I was so overwhelmed and in awe from the very first time I stepped in. It’s not only a survivor center for our girls but a sanctuary where they can feel safe and truly cared for amidst the chaos of processing and documentation. Our joyful hearts cry tears of joy for this milestone.”

Just three days after the official inauguration, several young women were rescued from a small bar and spent their first night in freedom at the Survivor Center. Four female police officers facilitated interviews, and IJM staff spent the night at the center. While IJM and government social workers help find longer-term shelters and aftercare homes, this secure space with pink curtains, comfortable beds, bright blankets, clean showers and food is a welcome haven.

“After sleeping in dingy hallways, tight office spaces and even basketball courts through countless nights just to get through processing, this space is truly an answer to prayer,” according to IJM Field Office Director Sam Inocencio.

“The Church is rising up in amazing ways right now in the Philippines,” Sam adds, “These sisters are truly responding as Jesus would, becoming hands and feet that provide service to girls who need to see his love.”

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