Modern day slavery is a billion dollar industry that spreads across the world. Today millions are trafficked from and through their respective countries for many trades such as sex, labor, organ harvesting, and etc. Not only does modern slavery consists of people being trafficked, another aspect is many being paid low wages or not being paid at all. Many women, men, and children are stuck in this cycle with no end in sight as they have very little resources that allow them to seek help to get out.
Damayan Migrant Workers Associations is one foundation that is helping to end this cause. Founded in 2002, Damayan is a grassroots organization that was founded for immigrant and migrant Filipino women to help workers help themselves in fighting wage theft, human and labor trafficking, domestic violence and discrimination based on immigration and gender. The organization which is based in New York and N
Current chair person of the organization Juana Dwyer,a former volunteer to the foundation, has helped pivot the foundation to new heights. Dwywer joined Damayan in 2009 and volunteered her weekends and weeknights after being fired from her job without receiving her unpaid wages and unemployment insurance. Dwywer felt that Damayan was a great organization to help serve justice and give a voice to women just like herself.
Since becoming chair, Dwyer has led the Peer Mentoring Program, which helps harvest leadership skills in those that were previously being trafficked. Juana has also helped organize grassroots strategies to aid in locating severely isolated trafficked domestic workers. The grassroots strategy proved to be highly effective, which in return helped win Damayan the illustrious Well Stone Award in April, from Freedom Network USA.
Under the successful leadership of Juana, Damayan has grown to over 40 domestic workers and has won over $700,000 in unpaid wages. Juana has also helped women who were trafficked by diplomats and other powerful players break free and secure legal/social services , and trafficking visas. With the help of Dwyer and other volunteers like her, Damayan has brought 23 children, 3 spouses, and 11 families together.
Juana has and continues to make a change in many underprivileged and under represented women in society. She truly proves why she is a Daily Points of Light Award honoree.