We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Jewsbury and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Main Message: Unsilenced Voices is an international organization that helps survivors of domestic abuse, sexual gender-based violence, and human trafficking worldwide.
Sub Message #1:
Unsilenced Voices is able to offer services to countries outside of the US either alone or by partnering with local organizations in order to offer vocational programs, education, and more that are tailored for that culture and community.
UV’s partnership program with the Ark Foundation in Ghana helps women who have been abused get off the streets and file charges against their abusers if they choose.
Provides safe housing
The Ark also educates school children about their rights with sexual violence.
UV partners with IDA Rwanda
Provides education about domestic violence and sexual abuse in rural communities
Through the partnership have initiated SPEAK clubs in schools to impact youth.
Also, started small business grants with women using funds fully supplied by UV
Distributes care packages for women that may include toothbrushes, toothpaste, shoes, socks, women’s personal hygiene materials, and other essentials that women may need.
In Sierra Leone, UV has implemented a vocational training program called,” Matilida’s Program,” which is named for the first girl that was helped by this initiative who later passed from AIDS
Currently fully supports 6 former sex workers who are sponsored to attend vocational training at the Bo Women’s Vocational Training Centre (including lunch, materials, and enrollment fees)
Also provides an additional 5 girls with materials for their studies.
They do 3 monthly sensitizations with sex workers, market women, as well as village outreach (UV goes into specific villages in the area with education programs centered around domestic violence and sexual abuse)
UV works closely with the FSU (Family Support Unit – the police unit that helps domestic violence survivors) and other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to implement additional community and youth training as they see fit.
In the village, UV also funds a groundnut and a cassava farm (two separate farms), which employs people in the village, including those who have been impacted by domestic violence and sexual abuse. UV pays for the seeds and clearing of the farms and the workers keep the money earned from the farm.
Sub Message #2:
UV provides a way for American donors to donate to certain foreign charities and get a tax deduction for their contribution by acting as an umbrella organization/fiscal partner for those specific charities.
UV is a fiscal sponsor for an org in Nepal called Happy Children where they buy back children who have been sold to Lords, typically from their families, for sex and child labor.
UV plans to expand to do sensitization meetings with communities about domestic violence and sexual abuse once funded.
UV is also a fiscal sponsor for the Ellamo Foundation in the Netherlands where UV receives 10% of monies received
Sub Message #3: Unsilenced Voices is expanding to the US to provide services and education to survivors and the community.
UV plans to partner with organizations in specific cities around the country to provide direct services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking while also providing education to the community by holding monthly conferences in designated cities.
Some partnerships include Beyond Freedom in Los Angeles, Two Wings in Los Angeles, Child Liberation Foundation, Girl Friday, and I am Enough Movement (details TBD)
The first event is a planned fundraising event to educate the community in Las Vegas, NV on July 22, 2021
UV hopes to be in a different city every month
It is important to improve access to health and enhance the quality of life in our communities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an international philanthropic, speaker, author, and breakthrough coach. May 2014, I took her first humanitarian trip to Guatemala
where I helped an orphanage on the Rio Dulce. My next mission trip took me to
Kenya, Africa with Kizimani, a non profit that focuses on bringing hope and
sustainable change to impoverished communities.
In 2015, I embarked in a career as Vice President for Young Vision Africa, a non-profit organization that
encourages young leaders in Sierra Leone to make lasting changes in their country.
Also in 2015, I joined a team of people in Hyderabad, India where I
worked with Back2Back at one of their orphanages.
I left my position with Young Vision Africa in August 2016 to
focus my efforts on ending domestic violence. My desire to help victims of
domestic abuse came from personal experience in such a relationship. I
was with my assailant for three years where I endured physical, sexual,
emotional and financial abuse. I wrote, produced and performed a critically
acclaimed play about my experience entitled But I Love Him. The play debuted at
the largest Solo Festival on the West Coast, The White Fire SoloFest, with a nearly
sold out performance in February 2016. The show, also staged in the 2016
Hollywood Fringe Festival, received multiple reviews and commendations.
I have since completed and published my personal memoir with the same
title as my play. But I Love Him is a painful yet inspirational true story of a
strong, independent woman caught in the horrifying cycle of domestic violence
and how she got out. In this book, she shares the details of her struggle with
genuine honesty, taking the reader on a twisted journey of love, pain and
unyielding brutality that eventually leads…to peace. Mixing statistics, research and
resource with her own account (and even some humor), I show just how
far someone in my situation can sink, why it happens and how surivivors can always
pick themselves back up. Those who hear my story walk away with a newfound
understanding about the horrors of domestic violence, how to escape and how to
build a new, healthier life.
In July 2017, I founded Unsilenced Voices, a 501(c)3 nonprofit
focused on inspiring change in communities around the globe by encouraging
victims to break free and survivors to speak up about domestic violence and sexual
assault. The mission of Unsilenced Voices is to provide shelter and relief to
survivors of domestic abuse and sexual gender-based violence worldwide.
Unsilenced Voices has been operating in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Rwanda where
we are working to implement shelters, sensitization programs, legal assistance,
vocational training, medical and counseling to survivors. The organization also
provides fiscal sponsorship to an NGO called Happy Children in Nepal and an
organization in the Netherlands entitled Ellamo. Unsilenced Voices is currently developing
essential partners in the United States to serve the greater Los Angeles area and beyond.
I have had numerous appearances
on talk shows, speaking engagements and workshops and have led multiple
seminars on the harsh reality of violence against women and gender-equality. I
was recently featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, and KTLA.
I have embarked on a new adventure to empower influential student
ambassadors to advance economic prosperity across cultures and beyond borders
as CFO of Student Economic Forum SEF. The concept was crafted after
I spoke at the Women’s Economic Forum WEF in Cairo, Egypt in March
2020. Through my participation in the WEF conference emerged a bond with
other women to give back to others under the auspices of the values and beliefs of
ALL Ladies League and the true spirit of the vision of WEF being; philanthropic,
non-profit and collaborative. Through collaborative efforts, I envision the
emerging group, Student Economic Forum SEF as one that unleashes the power
of each young person to grow and aspire to become change makers in society.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to Catalina Island to go Scuba diving and take a drive up the coast to go to Capitola. I love this city near Santa Cruz. There are three different restaurants I would go to… Pizza my heart, Zelda’s and Britannia Arms! In Los Angeles, my favorite place is Pickwicks Pub in Woodland Hills and Local Peasant in Sherman Oaks! I love LA, you can drive to the beach, take a ferry to Catalina, or drive to Big Bear to go snow skiing!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To all the women and men who have experienced sexual-gender-based violence worldwide
Youtube: Michelle Jewsbury and Unsilenced Voices