A Relationship Built on Trust


At the age of 20, Mandesa* learned she would never see her mother alive again after the terrorists raided her small home town not far from the East African coast. For Mandesa, this was only the latest in a series of painful events that shaped a life of constant movement and fear. Mandesa was first raped at the age of 13 by a government soldier. Her only brother, just a kid, was brutally beaten and abducted into a child army. She never slept through the night without waking in a panic. Never satisfied with their conquests, she understood the young men with fatigues and machine guns would eventually reach her wherever she went.

2016-03-01T17:00:12+00:00
A Relationship Built on Trust At the age of 20, Mandesa* learned she would never see her mother alive again after the terrorists raided her small home town not far from the East African coast. For Mandesa, this was only the latest in a series of painful events that shaped a life of constant movement and fear. Mandesa was first raped at the age of 13 by a government soldier. Her only brother, just a kid, was brutally beaten and abducted into a child army. She never slept through the night without waking in a panic. Never satisfied with their conquests, she understood the young men with fatigues and machine guns would eventually reach her wherever she went. [showhide type="9" more_text="Read More..." less_text="Read Less..."] With determination and cunning, Mandesa escaped and is now one of the approximately 500,000 survivors of torture and war-related trauma living in the United States. Like the majority of torture survivors, Mandesa carries around deep physical and psychological wounds.  Even without these profound challenges, Mandesa needed to find a way to survive without money, support from family or friends, or even the benefit of speaking English. As an asylum seeker, Mandesa was barred from accessing public housing or financial emergency services from both county and federal sources. Not eligible to work, she could not afford food and basic health care. A crippling fear of being returned to her oppressors through deportation and a post-traumatic fear of institutional detention made it nearly impossible for her to seek help. Without support, Mandesa’s only choice was a homeless shelter where she was at risk for abuse or violence. Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women provides women fleeing abuse and torture with a safe and comfortable home where they can recover and get help to resume their lives. Twenty years ago,...

Walking Together


From August 2014 through June of 2015, I was the St. Joseph Worker placed at Sarah's ... an Oasis for Women. Today I am the Program Enrichment and Volunteer Coordinator at Ascension Place in North Minneapolis. I wouldn't have my current job if it weren't for my time spent at Sarah's. It is truly a special place, which is no surprise, based on the caliber of the  women who founded it. 
2017-06-06T18:47:09+00:00
Walking Together From August 2014 through June of 2015, I was the St. Joseph Worker placed at Sarah's ... an Oasis for Women. Today I am the Program Enrichment and Volunteer Coordinator at Ascension Place in North Minneapolis. I wouldn't have my current job if it weren't for my time spent at Sarah's. It is truly a special place, which is no surprise, based on the caliber of the  women who founded it. [showhide type="20" more_text="Read More..." less_text="Read Less..."] I was terrified when I started at Sarah's. I still remember the feeling as sharply as it was then. Trying to understand people who spoke very different levels of English from me, attempting to relate to someone whose life experience is opposite to  mine in almost every way, and feeling completely out of my element with even the simplest task was far beyond my comfort zone. I was 22 years old and had what felt like no qualifications to support these women. Eventually, I came to learn that my humanity was qualification enough. It was at this point of complete desperation and fear that I started to understand what it means to partner with someone rather than lead them-something the CSJs do every day in their ministries. When I learned to stop expecting that I should have all the answers and instead opened myself up to the reality of knowing very little, my time as a St. Joseph Worker and at Sarah's shifted for the better. Being able to say, "I don't know the answer to that, but let's try to find it together," became my number one task every day at Sarah's. This is the piece of advice I gave to the current St. Joseph Worker there, and is still what I report as the greatest lesson learned from my time spent at Sarah's ... an Oasis for...