Aisha shares her story of resilience this Labor Day.
I will never forget the moment I entered Cast’s transitional shelter, Mariposa Haven. After years of being cut off from my family, denied control over my time, deprived of privacy and rest, I knew that this new place, a place I had never been before, was home.
The path that took me there was horrifying. The Saudi family who trafficked me worked me to the bone – cooking, cleaning, taking care of children. I learned to sleep lightly, as they might wake me at any time for some new task. When they threatened or hit me, I took my mind to another place and dreamt of a better life.
When the plane touched down in LA for the family’s vacation, I felt a surge of possibility. Sure enough, I saw my opportunity and ran out of the hotel. A few days later I was sitting, alone and desperate, on a bench in a city where I didn’t know the language, the geography or a single person. A stranger sat down next to me, sparking up a conversation in Arabic. She knew what I had been through because she had lived it herself. And she knew how to help.
This stranger, Fatima, brought me to Cast, where the staff knew immediately what I needed to regain my freedom. The support changed my life forever, just as it has for thousands before me.
Within days I was working with a Cast interpreter and case manager to create a plan and take control of my life, and spending hours on the phone with my husband, who for nearly seven years had no information about where I was. Within two years, Cast’s tireless staff had reunited me with my husband and son, secured a T visa for me, helped me enroll in ESL and computer classes that prepared me for my independence, and set me up with a good job at LAX alongside my husband. Every opportunity I needed to retake control of my life, Cast gave me.
Cast staff even helped me secure an apartment I could afford and wouldn’t be pushed out of, so that when I left Mariposa Haven I would have a new home, every bit as welcoming as the shelter had been.
Today, our lives are full of joy. Cast helped all three of us secure our green cards, and we welcomed a new little one into our family this past spring. Cast’s dedicated staff and caring community provided me with an extensive network of services, all of which were grounded in my needs and my experiences. They supported me every step of the way.
On Labor Day, we commemorate the fight for free and dignified work, which I was deprived of for years. If you believe that others like me desperately need a path out of oppression and into freedom, I hope you will make a generous gift to support Cast in honor of Labor Day.
Yours in solidarity,
Together, we can be the community survivors rely on. Join us by making a donation to Cast. Click here to donate.