THE STORY OF THE HOPE BAG MISSION
The Hope Bag Mission evolved from a personal experience with a young victim (we will call her Sarah) of human trafficking. She is now free, but at the time was pregnant and hiding in abandoned buildings. She delivered her baby in the city hospital where I practice part-‐time.
As a critical care nurse, I have seen many women in need living in impoverished neighborhoods and squalor. But I had never seen a woman so completely broken until my life collided with Sarah’s. She was HIV positive and the bloody needle used on her newborn baby had pierced my hand.
When that happened, I had a village of support. Sarah had no one.
She told me: “Not a single person in the whole world loves me. Nobody. I deserve to die. I want to die.” She withdrew into herself, almost disappearing before my eyes. My kindness and empathy came from a safe, non- judgmental place and little did I know how much it would impact us both. As I held her hand, she began to come alive again. I gave her tissues to dry her tears and a comb and brush. I opened my bag and allowed her to take whatever she needed. When I left work that night, the saddest and most broken woman I had ever met was smiling. My new lip-gloss was shining on her lips. My favorite handbag and all of its contents were clutched tightly to her chest.
I met the basic personal needs of one woman in her most vulnerable, broken state. I saw her light up from a simple act of kindness and a few personal care items. I hoped to help others in that same way. Hope Bags aren’t just about the personal care and beauty products. They are also about restoring dignity and trust and extending love from one woman to another. I hope they make every woman – the one who receives or the one who gives– feel confident and worthy of life.
A bed waiting for a young woman newly rescued from human trafficking.
Photo courtesy of The Well