Poverty, inequality, and sex work are closely intertwined, with the majority of sex workers being women who are impoverished or have previously been disadvantaged. In South Africa, work in the sex industry is stigmatized and illegal, and sex workers are a particularly marginalized group of people who are prone to exploitation, abuse, and illnesses. 

Cherished is an outreach organisation that provides support for women in the sex industry. They help women who have been sexually exploited and have suffered from abuse and traumatic experiences. Their mission is to reach out to women, rehabilitate them, and give them the tools they need to exit the industry and continue with their own lives. Their work is based on three fundamental affirmations: you are loved, You are valued, and you have a purpose. To establish relationships and explore what they can do to help the ladies, they meet regularly in outreach, support groups, and events. The Cherished project was launched during July and leveraged off the Mandela Day increase in donations. With the assistance of their #doDifferent activists, the project was funded in 3 days!

This project’s objective was to provide vulnerable and exploited women the courage to leave the sex industry by using the Restoration Program, with the goal of finding stable work to live independently, freely, and with purpose. Ultimately, thanks to the support from the platform, their #doDifferent activists and their supporters, Cherished was able to send three women for counselling and rehabilitation, as well enrol two women in a course of their choosing.

One of their success stories is that of Andiswa, not her real name, who overdosed in January and contacted Cherished, wanting to get out of her abusive working situation. For six months, she lived in a safe house where she studied for her matric and learned life skills. After some time, she was ready to move into a home that gave her more independence. Her life ambition had been to become a nurse. Cherished enrolled her in a home-based care nursing course. She is currently studying and completing her practicals, and is overjoyed to realise her lifetime aspirations, as well as to be able to care for her two children.

Ladies, like Andiswa, have suffered more trauma than most humans ever will in their lifetime. We applaud Cherished for all the good work that they have done and continue to do. It brings us great joy to know that the funding generated through our platform has a real-life impact. 

If you were moved by this story and would also like to get involved, please check out other such deserving projects here.

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