Working at Covenant House Vancouver, I have had the opportunity to meet many amazing young people. All of these youth have unique situations and circumstances that brought them to use our services. Young women often turn to us when they are fleeing abusive situations with a partner or within their own group of people. People they believed they could trust. Many of these young women have no place to go and no one to trust. These young women have told me they come to Covenant House Vancouver because it is a safe place and the staff at Covenant House can help them leave abusive situations.
One day while working in the Crisis Program, I received a call from a hospital regarding a young female who was brought in because she had been physically assaulted and drugged. The hospital social worker also believed that this young woman may be a survivor of human trafficking. The social worker at the hospital wanted to refer the young woman, *Tina, to Covenant House Vancouver to help her get back home.
Upon meeting Tina, I saw that she was a very young and vulnerable girl desperate to get home. I could also see bruises and scratches on Tina’s legs, arms, and neck. When I asked Tina how she came to be in Vancouver, she said her friend had told her that moving to Vancouver would be a great opportunity to get away from their small town, get good jobs, and meet new people. Her friend mentioned they would have a great place to stay.
Once they arrived in Vancouver, Tina came to realize that this was not the fun and exciting place her friend promised. She found herself living in the Downtown Eastside, which was a very scary experience for a young girl from a small town. Tina was also encouraged to use drugs and hang around people that did not make her feel comfortable or safe. Her friend encouraged her to sell herself for money because it was an easy way to make money and pay their rent. Her friend said it would be safe because the men they were staying with would look out for them.
Once we realized that Tina was at-risk of being recruited into the sex trade, all Covenant House staff banded together to get this girl home. Staff from every program: Community Support Services, Crisis Program, and Integrated Case Management, all worked together. Within days, staff were able to connect her to supports in her hometown and arrange for her to be sent home and picked up. Staff also confirmed that she would be staying in a safe place and would have the support needed to help her through what she experienced in Vancouver.
I still recall the day we got her up in the morning to be escorted for her trip back home. Tina was so grateful that she had found Covenant House Vancouver and could not thank staff enough for helping her to get home. She was tearful and sad that she had been convinced to come to Vancouver, only to be physically harmed and placed in a dangerous situation by someone she trusted. Tina even left her belongings behind because she did not want to return to the place where she had been staying. Once Tina returned home safe and sound, she called Covenant House to again thank the staff for their kindness and for getting her home safely.
It is at moments like this that I am so touched by the youth we help and the staff that work so hard for these young women and young men. I have never worked with a more amazing group of people. People that are so passionate about helping young people in the community.
Shared by a Youth Worker in our Crisis Program
*Youth’s name changed to protect confidentiality