Friday, March 20, 2009


11:37 PM

This next post I'm going to do my very best to convey the emotion with which I heard it. It is the story of trafficking survivor, Joana. To ensure Joana's privacy and protection, she was not photographed.

Joana was a beautiful, young Brasilian college graduate. She had a good life in Brazil, working and owned a car. She met a woman at her hair salon one day that told her about a job she could in America, in Atlanta, Georgia, working retail earning $200. It sounded good to Joana, so she paid the $8,000 to get her visas and began her journey to the US by way of Mexico. It took several days longer than she expected, and Joana and the other girls traveled at night by unmarked vans and slept in dried up riverbeds. It seemed suspicious to Joana, but she was anxious to get to America. Once arriving, she only had $5 to her name. And instead of being taken to a retail store for work, she was taken to a massage parlor in an apartment complex. At this parlor, there were several girls in provocative clothing, forced to work from 11pm – 7am. She tried to explain that wasn't the work she wanted to do, but the pimp didn't listen. After only three weeks of being in America, Joana discovered she was pregnant. The pimp tried to force Joana to get an abortion, but she didn't budge. She began seeking honest work, posting her contact info in stores that sold Brasilian items, hoping for a job cleaning houses. She prayed for God to do something. And He did. A woman saw her ad, called and offered Joana a job cleaning her home. Although Joana worked hard, she only made $40 a day and was barely getting by. There were days she went without food. The madam of the brothel allowed Joana to stay there and keep her baby, in hopes to prepare her for prostitution once she delivered. After several months, Joana finally felt comfortable enough to confide in the woman she was working for. The woman got the police and the local church involved and that was the turning point in Joana's life. She was taken out of the brothel and placed in a hotel, and then a shelter. She delivered her baby while in this shelter. She connected with Tapestri, an Atlanta-based trafficking victims recovery ministry. Tapestri provided the physical and psychological needs Joana required. Even though she was never forced into prostitution, Joana suffered the emotional trauma of being a trafficked victim. Joana credits her faith in God as what kept her going most days, as well as her son. Because of Joana's bravery, the other women from the brothel were also rescued and granted U.S. Working visas. Joana still has goals and dreams for her future. She aspires to use her hospitality management degree here in States. Mercer University has awarded Joana with a full scholarship to their English language institute to allow Joana to master the English language and continue reaching her dreams.

Joana's story was powerful because it showed that any education level, any income level is susceptible for human trafficking. Joana was one of the lucky survivors, and sadly many are not so lucky. Joana is committed to being a voice for this cause and I applaud her for her voice.

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!