A social justice toolkit

Developing the skills to fight human trafficking

I met a woman.

I know her name. I know her face. I know her story.

She was a victim of human trafficking. I met her in Spain through a church group that helps women escape sex trafficking. I didn't know anything about this terrible issue before my two-month exchange program in Spain. What I learned changed the way I saw the world.

A building in Madrid with refugees welcome signMy first week in Madrid was tough. I knew no one. I didn't know my way around the streets. I heard only Spanish.

Through the classes and excursions my program offered, I met amazing people. I learned about colonization and how it underpins the challenges people face today: class divides, gender roles, and marginalization.

Classes in social justice and inequalities and truth and compelling realities opened my eyes to my own family history.

I continued learning about human trafficking when I returned to Waterloo. Classes in social justice and inequalities and truth and compelling realities opened my eyes to my own family history: my parents fled war in El Salvador and I'm the first in my family to attend university. With what I learned, I feel compassion for women who have been marginalized and I decided I wanted to do something about human trafficking.

Being at GreenHouse with like-minded people and knowledgeable mentors has empowered me to be a leader and to create a non-profit startup.

A friend suggested I check out GreenHouse, Waterloo's social entrepreneurship incubator that helps students develop businesses that tackle social and environmental problems. It was a great fit and I've just started my second term living there.

Being at GreenHouse with like-minded people and knowledgeable mentors has empowered me to be a leader and to create a non-profit startup bringing together local organizations concerned with human trafficking to create a coordinated action plan.

Sara receiving an award from GreenHouse staffSara won a competition and received funding for her startup from Waterloo's GreenHouse social incubator. 

The future

Once I finish my degree I want to earn a Master of Social Work and become an expert on human trafficking and create partnerships and programs to stop it. The day I heard the story of that young woman in Spain changed me. I already knew I wanted to help people, but without that experience and what I've learned at GreenHouse, I'd never be having this kind of impact in the world.  


Sara is a fourth-year student in Spanish with minors in Social Development Studies and Speech Communication. She's also pursuing a specialization in Latin American Culture and Literature.