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"A silent plea" by Kiran Foster, used with permission under CC BY 2.0. Source.

Creating A Healing Partnership With Restore NYC: Empowering Survivors of Sex Trafficking


Just recently, I had the honor to treat my first patient who came to me from Restore NYC.  From the organization’s website, “Restore NYC is a non-profit organization that restores freedom, safety and hope to foreign-born survivors of sex trafficking by providing long-term, holistic aftercare services. We partner with local and federal officials and other organizations to empower survivors and facilitate the prosecution of traffickers.”

Sex trafficking is an issue that is not foreign to me.   I had done much work in the past with Gabriela Network – New York/New Jersey.  GabNet is a grassroots organization that cultivates Filipina leadership to work against sex and labor trafficking, militarism and globalization’s devastating effects on women of the global south.  I had assisted with campaigns, press releases, events that created awareness on the subject, and even was part of a staged protest in front of the United Nations focusing on violence against domestic worker, Sarah Balabagan.  In it, I represented the 16-year-old Filipina Muslim who was employed in the United Arab Emirates, and had stabbed her employer in self-defense after an attempted rape.  After 100 cane lashings, blood money, and two years in prison in the United Arab Emirates, she was deported to the Philippines.  Whatever I did was able to get me on the cover, in malong (traditional multi-use handwoven “tube skirt”in the Philippines) and demo poster, of the now-defunct newspaper, Asian New Yorker.

Although Sarah Balabagan’s case is not one of sex trafficking, working with GabNet enabled me to get familiar with issues facing many Filipina women, at home and abroad. So, when I found out about Restore NYC and its mission to serve survivors of sex trafficking, I wanted to be a part of it, and donate my services as needed.

I soon met Ms. Wang, a client of Restore NYC.  Through her case worker and interpreter, Christina, I learned of her health concerns.  She was accustomed to acupuncture, but was unable to afford her treatments any longer, which is why she took advantage of my services.  It was my first time working through an interpreter, but I was able to get a clear idea.  Christina then had a seat in the waiting room, as I performed acupuncture to assist with my patient’s painful monthly cramps, among other issues.

The treatment went well.  Afterwards, Ms. Wang told Christina that she felt good.  I was happy to hear the feedback!

Here’s to my new relationship with Restore NYC!  I hope it will bring forth some healing for these survivors of sex trafficking, and that I’ll have more opportunities to help more of their clients in the future.


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