Her Future is Hers
Reintegration Success Stories
It is 8:00 am on a Tuesday morning. She pulls back the large cream bi-folding doors that give her salon its indoor-outdoor flow. Warm sunlight floods into the room, illuminating the polish of the white floor tiles. The wide storefront entrance welcomes in the cool air of the morning and tells passersby that Leakena’s salon is open for business.
It has been two months since Leakena first opened the doors to her salon and in doing so, she entered into the next chapter of her story. Just two years earlier, Leakena probably wouldn’t have imagined herself to be where she is today. In search of financial security, Leakena found herself in a difficult situation. “I used to work at a karaoke bar. I had no other job,” Leakena shares. “I was scared and I didn’t feel good at the bar because I could see that the people did not really care about me. I did not like it there.” Fortunately, within three months, Destiny Rescue was able to intervene and Leakena was given the opportunity to take back control of her life and grab a hold of her future.
I was scared and I didn’t feel good at the bar because I could see that the people did not really care about me. I did not like it there.
Leakena was 18 years old when she first came to Destiny Rescue and freely admits that she had a little bit to learn. “I didn’t know a lot about cooking or just general life skills really,” she says. Over the next two years, that began to change. Leakena learnt how to cook, developed her life skills, and started building toward her future by pursuing vocational training in hair and beauty. Now Leakena is officially reintegrated into the community after having completed Destiny Rescue’s program and successfully passing all of her vocational skills training.
Leakena’s success can be partly attributed to the positive support network that surrounds her – namely, her family. Leakena tells us that she originally comes from a large family and has nine siblings that all live in another province. Upon hearing that Leakena was moving to the city to open up a shop, her sister immediately showed her support. “My big sister moved to be here and to take care of me when I opened my business,” smiles Leakena. “Now I can go anywhere and I feel comfortable because I have my sister here with me.” It wasn’t easy, but for Leakena, this was her dream – so she gave it her all! “I worked hard and saved my own money and my Mom also supported me by giving money to go toward the opening of the salon.” Both Leakena’s mother and sister are shining examples of how important a strong family connection is to a girl who is starting to plant her feet. “I am so happy now because Destiny Rescue came and lent me some supplies and the staff came to help set up the salon.” Together, her family and Destiny Rescue staff came around Leakena to ensure she was equipped with everything she needed to succeed.
I am so happy because I have something that is mine – my very own shop.
Now 20 years old, Leakena is a proud shop owner and manager. But it is much more than that for her; “I am so happy because I have something that is mine – my very own shop,” she smiles. “I opened two months ago and I already have some customers!” Leakena lightly swivels in her salon chair as she talks, “I studied make-up for vocational training at Destiny Rescue and now it is a service I offer here at the salon.” It is easy to observe the passion Leakena has for her work and she finds it hard to narrow down her favorite part. “It’s hard to pick one favorite thing about owning my own shop – I like it all – the customers, using the skills I learned from my vocational training – everything! I have so much fun,” she laughs.
I like it all – the customers, using the skills I learned from my vocational training – everything! I have so much fun.
A number of beautiful nail polish bottles – an array of shapes, colors and glitters, line the display cabinet located in the centre of the room. Leakena glances at them as she speaks, “I plan to buy more supplies and products to sell to the customers. I want my shop to expand and to have even more customers!” Leakena has always been forward-thinking and her ability to think ahead has, to this day, helped her to shape her decisions. “I chose to open up my own shop because I thought it would be easier than working for someone else and potentially receiving a lower income. This way I get to keep the money that I have earned,” she shares.
Now that she is newly independent, Leakena reflects back on her time with Destiny Rescue. “I think learning a vocational skill is incredibly valuable. It helped me prepare to get a job, and more importantly, having skills caused other people to look up to me and have respect for me.” There’s a break in the conversation and we take a look around. Every part of the salon has a little bit of Leakena in it. From the transparent handmade plastic vases, filled with greenery and life, to the bright yellow floral decor trimmings all around the room. This is the vision come to life of a girl who set out to make something her very own.
It’s almost 10:00 am and it’s time for us to go. Leakena will have customers arriving soon. She grabs the straw broom, sweeps the tiled floor, and resets the salon stools to their original positions. We pack up our things and on our way out, Leakena says goodbye with a smile that shows us that she is ready to win another day.
*Her name has been changed to protect her identity
When you hear the term freedom, you often will think of the type of freedom that liberates someone from the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. While that is true, the real freedom we seek for the girls in our care goes beyond that. We don’t just focus on the physical freedom. Destiny Rescue wants to see each of the girls in our care grow spiritually and have the freedom to speak, think, and act freely.
Your continued support will be the reason another amazing girl is able to be free and pursue her dreams!