A Survivor's Story from Eleventh Candle Co. in Ohio
“I am strong and I am a survivor. I don't like to be called a victim since I made it out. Now, I want to help other women.” These words come from Molly* who has been working at Eleventh’s candle making shop in Columbus, OH for about two months now.
She has four children of her own and has found Eleventh to have made a huge difference in her life. She says, “I find peace here, and to know I have them all to help me with anything. Also just giving me this opportunity to work here. I can pay bills and become a better person." No one is doing the work for her -- Molly has a new life that she’s accepted, as well as the challenge of fighting for it.
Although Molly did return to the life after first getting out of it, she’s now at a more stable place having broken the temptation for drugs and quick money. Molly shares, “I returned after learning how to hustle and keep feeding my addiction. I was addicted to cocaine and heroin by then." But now, she has hope in life, in her children, and in her work. "I see how important it is that I am a mother and that my kids have unconditional love for me. I have a lot to look forward to like getting custody of them all when I can. I am strong and I am a survivor. I don't like to be called a victim since I made it out. Now, I want to help other women.”
Molly is a role model for any woman who is struggling between a life of sex trafficking and one of freedom. She’s come out and is now living to help the next generation of women. Molly even says, “I love to make people happy and each and every candle makes them smile. This whole business and environment is inspiring, it helps give women like me a job and it makes healthy families and lives."
Amber Runyon, Founder of Eleventh, shares how she witnessed the phenomenon of having “a woman in Ethiopia who is struggling to feed her kids and is selling her body for a loaf of bread and a woman in Columbus who is struggling to feed her kids and is selling her body for a loaf of bread.”
Eleventh’s Ambassador Abroad, Melkamu Alemayehu, says that when he met Amber “it was a really special day” because he felt “that we have the same heart. I found my own idea within somebody else.” Soon after meeting Melkamu and Amber started a foster care program that removed children from orphanages to keep them in their own communities. The program supported children living in poverty and on the fringes of society.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, OH, women who have come out of human trafficking are given employment and shown love. They find that they are now known and accepted as they are through the Eleventh team. They also feel inspiration knowing the candles they make help the children in Eleventh’s foster care program in Ethiopia.
Some women in the US get into drugs and are trafficked even though they’ve come from middle-class or wealthy upbringings. It can be as simple as getting addicted to pain medication to start or needing to get quick money. Molly explains that "Traffickers are everywhere and no one is safe. I'm from a small town where people would never think it'd happen to them. No matter age, gender, etc. anyone can be trafficked. It's sad, but true.”
Even though many days can be profoundly discouraging, Amber finds motivation through “the thrill of hope”. Globally, abuse comes in many forms, but it cannot stop goodness from remaining. And this goodness has gained many victories through the work of Eleventh. Molly’s is just one example of many who’ve regained hope: "My dreams are to get custody of my kids and eventually have a nice house. I want to be a counselor for women and children coming out of trafficking. I want to be successful in all aspects of life. I want to be happy, joyous and free!”
*Name has been changed to protect privacy