- PROGRAM SUMMARY -
Street Hope focuses on the following:
1We reach these women in survival prostitution through a variety of outreach programs, which include spending time speaking with women and getting to know them and their families in their communities.
Street Hope primarily focuses on women in survival prostitution who are in their 20s and have been in survival prostitution for less than 7 years. Based on our experience, these women tend to have young children that are still unaware of their vocation, so the opportunity to break the cycle of this way of life is strong. In addition, because these women are younger and have been doing it for less time, individually they each have the greatest chance to make a full life change with the proper support, love and training.
As a part of the Street Hope Program, the women are required to come to the Street Hope Center 4 days per week, where they receive training and work in exchange for a weekly salary. The type of training we provide includes the following: vocational skills, life skills, financial skills, counseling, and a foundation of faith.
Through trainers, we teach the women 3 main areas of vocational skills: jewelry making, sewing, and cooking. We work with them in teams to get everyone at a proficient level of skill in each category, and we work with them individually to discover any special gifts and hone in those expert skills. As a part of their vocational training, we also teach them about basic workplace culture and norms such as coming to work on time and notifying managers when you or your kids are sick. Even this basic knowledge, which we take for granted, has not been taught to these women before now in most cases.
We teach life skills by living out the culture of Street Hope in the Center each day, through team activities, and by teaching them skills like parenting and running their household. When each new cohort starts coming to the Center, they are greeted by staff and members and mentors from previous cohorts. We have team agreements and behaviors that we not only explain to the new cohort members, but everyone in the center actively engages in these positive behaviors, such as treating each other with respect, addressing conflict quickly and calmly, and being honest. This is a culture that is infused throughout all our interactions at the Center, and each woman starts to build a bond of trust with each other, and to consider the Center and its activities as a “safe place” for them to go each day. In addition, we have learned that many of these women have gaps in knowledge and questions related to things like parenting, reading/ writing, and other skills, so we supplement with this type of training on a case-by-case basis based on the needs of each woman.
Most of these women have never had the opportunity to save or budget because they have lived day-to-day only focused on survival. To get paid a salary and to have to budget for rent and food and other expenses are activities that are completely new to them. We work to understand the specific needs of each woman and her family, and then help her create a budget and stick to it. We provide weekly follow-up to ensure that they are successfully staying on budgets and can quickly address any issues or challenges that may arise. This is a long process that we work with them on throughout the first year of the program.
We have a professional counselor that comes to the Center 1 day per week to work with the women. The counselor leads the group in team counseling sessions, as well as provides one-on-one counseling based on the needs of the different women. In cases where addiction is an issue, we will also engage outside organizations and method to help provide assistance to break those addictions.
We do not require a woman to be a Christian to participate in the Street Hope program. A key part of our program is actively loving and caring for these women, and teaching them that God loves them, unconditionally. And that with God’s love they can be healed no matter what has happened to them in the past. Many of these women have come from dark places and do not feel any kind of love. In addition, many of them carry a great deal of shame because of the life that they have been living. Knowing that the Street Hope staff cares for them and loves them, and that God loves them, helps fill the dark places in these women’s hearts and helps them build the faith and confidence that they need to understand that they can have hope and a future that is different than their past. We have found that this piece is critical to provide full healing for the women so that as they move forward, they do not fall back into their old habits and lives.