Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Jas Rawlinson
on November 30, 2021

Resilience. If there’s one inner quality that I could gift to a friend or loved one, it would be this. Because regardless of your background, your personal experiences, your age, or your social status, resilience is the only thing that will truly help you to push forward when faced with overwhelming challenges. 

For some, this form of psychological strength comes naturally; for others, not so much. The good news, however, is that resilience is something we can all build upon and nurture, regardless of our age or what we’re facing—but it does take work. The key to pushing through comes from understanding that there will be challenges in life but these dark times won’t last forever. 

To develop resilience, you must have persistence.

I’ve witnessed the power of resilience many times throughout my lifetime, particularly as an ambassador for Destiny Rescue and Project Karma—two organizations fighting to end child sexual exploitation and trafficking. 

It was during my mid-twenties, while volunteering as a photojournalist at a festival, that I first became aware of the issue of human trafficking—and it changed me forever. I still remember that day, the moment I walked into one of the festival tents and fixed my eyes upon a documentary about children who had been rescued from sexual slavery. There were 10-year-old children. There were toddlers. There were girls who had been sold by their own mothers. It was shocking and heartbreaking, and I knew I needed to be part of the fight to end this social evil.

On that afternoon, as I walked around the tent and saw photographs of young girls in need of sponsorship, I noticed just how young they were. Some were just 14 or 15—and yet they’d been out of the industry for several years. It was horrendous. I couldn’t believe that this was the world we were living in, but I also didn’t want to just ignore it. That was the day that I made a decision to be part of the solution instead of the problem. Immediately, I signed up as a sponsor for Destiny Rescue, and began my journey into writing and advocating about these issues.

A few years later, I went overseas to learn more about the work Destiny Rescue was doing. We went to the red-light districts and saw buildings where children had been rescued only a week or two beforehand. I found myself looking around at the clubs and bars and seeing the hopelessness etched onto the faces of the girls standing outside as Western men—drunk and looking for instant gratification—pointed to the numbers attached to the underwear of each girl and made their “purchase.” For me to know what was happening to these girls behind the scenes was horrific. 

We also visited the rescue homes, where girls had been given a new life and were able to learn a trade in business, hospitality, or hairdressing. I was heartened to see that these young women weren’t just surviving—they were also beginning to thrive. Most importantly, they were being provided with the tools and training needed to live an empowered life, the kind that would set them on a path toward success.

There were many difficult things that I experienced and witnessed during that trip, but to see the other side—the happy and smiling faces of those who were now living in freedom—was beautiful. 

As a survivor of family violence and abuse, as well as a resilience speaker and advocate for social change, I know how hard it can be—particularly on our darkest days—to believe that brighter days are coming. But I also know that, in time, we can overcome whatever we are facing. In my darkest days, there are four words that have helped me the most: This too shall pass.

In my teenage years, I felt that the traumas that I was experiencing were too overwhelming to ever overcome, and that’s why I’m also passionate about equipping young people with the tools needed to work through their own challenges. It’s this passion, along with my own experiences, that drove me to start speaking out about mental health and trauma—and also sparked the inspiration behind my book series, “Reasons to Live: One More Day, Every Day.” 

Whatever you’re going through, please know that these experiences do not have to define your life. This is not where your journey ends. Keep going, keep reaching out, and most importantly, never underestimate just how powerful your own story can be in helping someone else to find hope and reasons to keep on living one more day, every day.

If you’d like to learn more about the issue of human trafficking, check out Gaggle’s recent Student Wellness Series: Human Trafficking webinar. 

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