Rivonia Incs. Mission Statement
Rivonia, Inc. provides advocacy, preventive measures and assistance to help all victims of sexual and labor exploitation to attain the lives they envision for themselves.
Meet Angelika, Co-Founder of Rivonia Inc.
Hi, this is Angelika, co-founder and Executive Director of Rivonia, Inc. Often I get asked what drew me to Human Trafficking and why I want to help individuals who have been trafficked. My answer to the first question is that it found me! I was not looking for work with individuals who have been trafficked. I knew about human trafficking but it never occurred to me actually working with this population. All I knew, is that I wanted to work with an organization advocating for social justice due to having experienced injustices myself just because of who I am.
I started my college career in the US when I was in my middle forties with the Women’s College/University of Denver, majoring in Law and Society. This major sounded just what I was looking for. I went to the Women’s College for about 2 years and left very frustrated – middle age white women populated this program and I did not fit in. I changed schools and my major – I became a Social Worker, not anything I thought I ever would choose as a career, but here I am!
Being a social worker fits me, I had a few very good Professors who guided and nurtured my hunger for social justice. My very first internship was with a secure treatment facility for girls. There, I was introduced to human trafficking. One of the clients was sex trafficked by her father.
My next internship was with a small nonprofit working with domestic homeless youth, which are at a very high risk of becoming trafficked. This internship was very challenging – I did not think I could finish this internship due to the blatant injustices when working with children; but also due to the grassroots take by the organization on making a positive difference. I persevered and to this day I am glad I stuck it out…the youth population taught me so much, opened my eyes to the daily challenges of survival.
In my third internship I worked with adults and minors, domestic and foreign nationals, documented and undocumented, which taught me a whole different perspective on what challenges individuals who have been trafficked have to endure to receive services and justice. Being a foreigner myself, a woman, putting me in the “minority” category, just fueled a passion in me. Many of the injustices providing the need and vulnerability for individuals to be at risk of becoming human trafficked. Many of these injustices experienced by myself; always having to fight the biases and wrong assumptions about foreigners; women; the distrust by the domestic population towards me…all these experiences brought it home for me, where I needed to continue to make a positive change.
All three internships taught me a different aspect of the injustices in society and how little awareness there was in the mainstream population. These experiences led to my founding my own organization, Rivonia, Inc.!
I haveworked in the human trafficking field for the past 9years. Rivonia, Inc. is a new non-profit organization and its mission is to provide assistance and advocacy to help victims of human trafficking prevail over the trauma of sexual and labor exploitation by providing safety, healing, empowerment, justice, life skill training and reintegration into society. Rivonia, Inc.’s main focus is on labor trafficking.
Due to the extensive media coverage of sex trafficking and minor girls, helping only victims of sex trafficking depletes important resources. However, labor trafficking is more prevalent than sex trafficking (60% labor trafficking vs. 40%sex trafficking), yet life saving resources are not readily available for those who have beenlabor trafficked. In accomplishing this important path to self-sufficiency, safe and confidential housing is the first step to reach this goal.
Once safe, confidential housing is obtained, the clients then can concentrate on achieving their goals. In Colorado, the housing market is very tight and expensive, and out of reach for the clients we serve. Due to the various layers of trauma our clients experience,shelter is not an option. Having to share shelter space with chronically homeless individuals, many of them mentally ill and drug addicted, is putting our clients in a situation to be re-traumatized and re-triggered due to situations experienced while being trafficked. Our foreign national clients many times cannot enter a shelter due to their undocumented status, even though they entered this country with a temporary work visa.
When individuals, who have been labor trafficked cannot find safe, confidential housing and therefore, cannot find work to support themselves, the risk of being lured back into the trafficking situation is very high. Traffickers do look for the individuals who were lucky enough to escape the trafficking situation because victims of trafficking are making financial profit for the traffickers. It is frustrating to always have this danger/threat lurking in the back of one’s mind when it easily could be fixed with educating the media and the communities so important financial resources could be accessed.
The donated funds will go toward finding safe, confidential housing; cell phones(necessary for safety planning, as well as connecting with family), personal hygiene items, bus passes or bus tickets, and for foreign national clients to cover the cost of medical, dental, and vision needs; ESL classes, and GED classes. Additionally, life skills trainings are a necessary financial investment for our clients to continue on the path of self-sufficiency as well as acculturation to become successful members of society. We will also offer free trainings for community stakeholders. Our clients are receiving individualized case management and donated funds might be used for services geared to the individual client.It is important to empower the clients so they will find their own paths to successfully reintegrate into society.
Much thought went into finding a name for our organization to make sure we acknowledge the hardship of the people we would serve. We wanted a name that acknowledged the hardships but also the triumphs of the people we would serve.Nelson Mandela kept coming up as the beacon of the name search due to his global advocacy for social justice and peace. Nelson Mandela fought for the Human Rights for the people of South Africa and was imprisoned for 27 years for his cause. The trial (1963-1964), which gained worldwide attention, was named after Rivonia, a suburb of Johannesburg.
The Rivonia trial is often referred to as “the trial that changed South Africa” (http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/rivonia-trial-1963-1964) because Nelson Mandela condemned the very court he was appearing in as illegitimate. The argument was “…that the law was drawn up without the consent of the majority; it was enforced to ensure the perpetuation of an unjust system, and therefore the struggle would be waged to establish a new system, including a legal system that would embody the values of a non-racial constitution that protected human rights” (http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/rivonia-trial-1963-1964). Rivonia, Inc. is about respecting Human Rights, as we are working with people whose basic Human Rights have been totally disregarded. The vision of Rivonia, Inc. is to be a good steward of following Nelson Mandela’s vision of the inherent respect of Human Rights by human beings for human beings.
On February 11, 1990,Nelson Mandela was a free man once again. His words, “Education is the most powerful weapon whichyou can use to change the world”(Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, 1993 Nobel Peace Prize laureate http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/efa/quotes.shtml) still ring true today.
In 1993, Nelson Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in ending apartheid in South Africa. Francis Sejersted, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, stated that these two men became Nobel Peace Prize Laureates because of their determination “not to dwell on the deep wounds of the past” and to move forward to “break the vicious cycle” that South Africa descended into after WWII. This approach is anadmirable illustration for the world of hope “that there are ways out of the vicious circle of violence and bitterness” (http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/Feb/On-this-Day--Nelson-Mandela-Released-From-Prison.html).