Thistle Farms National Conference Part 2

(This is the second of three posts from Twila Wanamaker describing her experience attending a national conference hosted by Thistle Farms*, “Welcome to the Circle,” in Nashville, Tennessee, October 13-15, 2013.)

Monday, October 14:

The Monday morning keynote speaker was Dr. Nicholas Hitimana, founder and managing director of Ikirezi Natural Products in Rwanda employing many women. He related stories of the genocide in his country that spurred him and his wife, who had escaped Rwanda, to go back and help the orphans in the community with high school scholarships. It was very moving when he apologized to the Magadalene House residents for the men who abuse women. He left us with an African proverb, “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”

IMG_6190We toured Thistle Farms and had lunch at the new Thistle Stop Café.

My first afternoon workshop was “Duplicating the Model: Lessons from the First Three Years,” in which we learned step-by-step how to set up a program like Magdalene House. My second workshop was “Housing First for Adult Survivors of Human Trafficking and Prostitution,” which gave logistics, details, and reasons why a safe place is needed where survivors learn to live in community first. Then survivors need access to all kinds of services. We learned that love heals, but not all by itself.

(More in tomorrow’s post…)

Twila WanamakerThis post is contributed by Twila Wanamaker, member of “All Hands In,” a ministry in Boston, Massachusetts, working for the abolition of human trafficking.

*Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennesee, is a residential program and social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women create by hand natural body-care products; purchasing their products helps them become economically independent and supports the outreach of the organization. Magdalene is the two-year residential community for women offering housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Thistle Farms offers education, training, and conferences for others who wish to learn about how to create social enterprises. For photos from the 2013 conference “Welcome to the Circle,” click here. (Photo of Thistle Stop Café used by permission from Twila Wanamaker.)


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