Transformation: Healing and hope found in community
Join host Cathy Herholdt and Karess Linzer as they share an empowering story of transformation and healing in Bangladesh—two things that take place amongst a genuine, validating, and supportive community.
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Join host Cathy Herholdt and Karess Linzer as they share a story of hope, healing, and transformation in Bangladesh and shine a light on the realities of human trafficking in the area. Hear how one woman used her experience with human trafficking to teach women and children in her community about human trafficking, various forms of child exploitation, and how to protect children creating hope for the future.
Transformation: Healing and hope found in community
Cathy: We're doing something a little different on the podcast. We're kicking off a short series of conversations on a topic that aligns with our mission to share what God is doing at the end of the road. We're calling this series Beyond the End of the Road because we're taking you, our listeners, a little deeper into the stories. For the next couple episodes, we're going to focus on transformation. Now, transformation is kind of a buzzword in the field that we work in, but at World Concern, we really seek to see transformation in every aspect of people's lives and in entire communities, physical and spiritual transformation. Now, we'll get into what that means throughout these conversations, but we're excited to jump into this with you, and as always, we're so glad you're along for the ride.
By we, I mean I'm excited to welcome back to the podcast, my friend, colleague, content strategist extraordinaire, Karess Linzer. I wanted to call you my right hand, my partner in crime, my sidekick, but those just don't capture how important you are to bringing the stories of World Concern to life. You really are the Robin to my Batman. Welcome, Bat Karess.
Karess: Thank you, Cathy. I am so excited to be joining you on the podcast again. I mean, it's been a while since I've been on this side of things. I'm typically on the content side of things and not in front of the mic or the camera, but I'm definitely looking forward to having conversations about these stories of transformation that we're going to be sharing. My hope for this series is that we can shed light on the empowering transformation that's happening in many lives in the areas we serve.
Cathy: Right. As I mentioned, our goal is to dig into these stories a little bit deeper and try to hone in on takeaways for ourselves and for you all as listeners. At World Concern, we have a butterfly logo. Check it out on our website if you have a minute. It's got four parts to the butterfly's wings, and those four parts represent God, World Concern, the people we're serving, those you hear about in these stories on the podcast, and our supporters, people like you who are listening to the podcast, taking the time to learn more about this massive, diverse world we live in. In the center of the butterfly is a circle, a swirl that represents the mutual transformation that we can all experience. Our hope is that you experience transformation in your own life because of your involvement with us and what God is doing around the world.
Today we want to share a really compelling, heartbreaking story of a woman named Sabina. Now, her name has been changed to protect her identity because when Sabina was just 11 years old she was a victim of human trafficking. She was taken off the street, right off the street in her rural village in Bangladesh, and put on a train with nine other young girls bound for Calcutta, India. Absolutely terrifying. She experienced all kinds of horrors, but eventually a Bangladeshi family that was living in India found her and helped her. At age 14, she returned home, but her life was not easy from that point on. She was shamed and considered damaged goods in her community even though she was an innocent victim. Sabina worked in a garment factory for a while, and eventually she went to live with a much older man and had four daughters with this man. He eventually rejected her too.
In 2019, things finally started to change for Sabina. When she heard that World Concern was working in her village and offered trainings for women and children about the dangers of trafficking, about staying safe, about protecting children, and how to do that, so she attended one of these trainings and learned that what she had experienced was a crime and that it had a name, human trafficking. She shared her experience in a safe place, and now she helps ensure that not only her own daughters are safe, but that others in her community are aware of the danger that's out there, and they know how to protect themselves too. She's like a beacon of light for others now.
Karess: Wow. I've read through this story and I've heard this story a few times, and it's just so heartbreaking. I can only imagine what that must have been like to go through something so hard, so heartbreaking, and not even know that it has a name. I mean, to carry the weight of shame and rejection, although she was truly an innocent victim, but then to finally learn that what she experienced has a name and be validated in a safe space, that part, that must be very freeing. I bet the weight of shame began to lift from her shoulders once she not only learned more through the trainings for women and children, but also as she began to help others feel safe, especially her own daughters. I believe just hearing someone validate the very thing you've been carrying for a long time can be life changing, and then having your feelings validated opens the door for deep healing to take place.
Cathy: So true. I mean, I think about how Sabina must have felt just realizing after so many years of feeling so alone that she wasn't alone. There's something so healing for each of us in knowing that you're not alone. I think it's why support groups, church, community groups, all of those places where we can connect with others and not feel alone are so effective. We need to know that we're not alone.
Karess: Absolutely. I mean, just knowing that other people can relate to your experience and they've survived right along with you is comforting. Having that community is such an important part of healing when it comes to trauma. I mean, it helps shape the narrative that you tell yourself, and it just reminds you that you're indeed not alone.
Cathy: I've worked with World Concern for a long time in this work of moving towards transformation in people's lives and communities, and I can tell you that there are a lot of really exciting aspects of this work. Trainings, which is actually something that World Concern does a lot of, these are usually, for most people, the least exciting or interesting aspects of our work. People love supporting clean water wells and providing food and building schools, but when we talk about trainings, I notice that people's eyes glaze over sometimes. This story illustrates that this is a really powerful aspect of what World Concern does. It's so simple. It's so cost effective, and it's replicable. I mean, even Sabina is now teaching others in her community about human trafficking and other forms of child exploitation, and harm, and child rights, and how to protect kids. This is transformation. It's really amazing that this is the thing that turned Sabina's whole life around, a simple training.
Karess: I mean, knowledge is power. These trainings, they help more people become aware of the areas of vulnerability that exist when it comes to children, and then they learn practical ways on how to prevent things from happening. Teaching others about ways to protect kids and keeping them safe, it can really empower a community and lead to long lasting transformation.
Cathy: Right. I think my takeaway from this conversation from Sabina's story is that simple things like having your story validated, your experience heard, having a name for it, and knowing you're not alone, these things are life changing. I want to think more about how I can offer those things to others. Who might I come across in my community, at church, when I travel that I can listen to, validate, and remind them that they're not alone? This is something I've seen a lot when I've traveled with World Concern to the field. I usually go on these trips to collect these stories that we share here on the podcast and elsewhere. I find that when I'm sitting with someone, hearing their story, just listening to a mother in a remote village who has never had anyone ask her about her life, or listen to her experiences and tell her she's not alone, it's so healing. It's so good. I really believe that this is ministry. Just sitting with people and hearing their story, there's something incredibly powerful about doing that. What about you? What's your takeaway from this story?
Karess: Yeah, I mean, that's so good. I think my takeaway from this story is that having a safe space and a community that you can be open and honest with can make a huge difference, especially when it comes to healing. Also, being brave enough to allow something I've walked through to fuel my passion to serve others. When we go through things, we learn so much, and what better way to empower someone else than to share our own experiences and what we've learned in a safe space in hopes that that itself empowers someone else.
Cathy: Yeah, Something you said just really clicked for me. You said that when you have a place, a safe place, where you can be open and honest, I feel like that's what these kinds of trainings, these kinds of community building activities that World Concern engages in and helps communities set up and arrange, that's what they're doing. They're creating a safe place, a safe space where people can come and tell their stories and share about their lives. I mean, that alone, again, is just a really powerful step towards transformation.
Karess: Absolutely. I would definitely agree. I mean, the transformation that happens in those safe spaces and through those trainings, those are long lasting and make a huge difference.
Cathy: Yeah. Well, wow, really great conversation today. We hope that you've enjoyed joining us today and that you've got some takeaways for yourself from this story, Sabina's story, and from this conversation. If you do, we would love to hear about them, so please feel free to share those takeaways with us that you found personally today. You can message us on Instagram at The End of the Road podcast, or you can email us at [email protected]. We'll put that contact information in the show notes, and we would love to hear from you. Thanks for listening, and thank you Karess for sharing a bit of your heart with us today and your thoughts on transformation. This is great. I love having a partner in this.
Karess: Thank you, Cathy. This was great.
Cathy: I want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope your mind has been expanded and your heart has been touched by what God is doing around the world. If you like what you're hearing on The End of the Road, please give us a five star rating and review us on Apple Podcasts, or hit the bell symbol on Spotify to be notified when there's a new episode released. Stay in the know and never miss an episode by texting the word podcast to 34444. I want to thank CRISTA Ministries, World Concern's parent organization for making this podcast possible, and I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production and editing and consulting expertise, for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today. We look forward to more stories at The End of the Road next time.