My Refuge House Mini Documentary

Mission:

My Refuge House restores survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse.

My Refuge House is dedicated to providing the best comprehensive and therapeutic care so that each girl can stand on her own. We believe a loving and caring atmosphere is the foundation for any healing environment. There is a family-like environment between staff and girls that draws upon Filipino culture through family meetings, outings, and activities. Since 2008, we have provided long-term aftercare for over 40 survivors as they reclaim their lives. In 2015, we added another home to increase long-term capacity, created a transition program for our older girls, and began a community outreach program focused on prevention and advocacy.

How MRH began:

My Refuge House began in 2008 when one small church in Southern California resolved to do something to help meet the needs of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and abuse. A woman in the church read “Terrify No More: Young Girls Held Captive and the Daring Undercover Operation to Win Their Freedom.” by the founder of International Justice Mission, Gary A. Haugen. She started giving the book to other church members and soon they were all united in the need to do something to create change in the world of human trafficking.

They focused on Cebu, Philippines due to the high level of trafficking that happens in the area. As one of the most developed provinces in the Philippines, Cebu is a global hub for business and tourism, which has created a high demand for sex trafficking. The church raised the funds to build the original home for My Refuge House.

Over the years, this church, along with other churches, organizations, and people have continued to supporting and encouraging My Refuge House to fulfill our mission. Together, we are Restoring One Life At A Time.

Heather Bland
Chief Executive Officer
Based in Southern California

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Heather loves telling stories and talking about resilience and strengths. She is an experienced leader and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, whose professional philosophy is grounded in infusing hope and promoting resilience as a means to fully support individuals, families, teams, and communities as they move toward realizing their potential. She has a passion for including the marginalized.

Heather worked for thirteen years at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago, beginning as a milieu therapist in a residential program for adolescent girls. She spent her last ten years working as the Therapeutic Supervisor and Program Manager of AfterCare, a program that worked in the community with former Mercy Home residents and their families.  During this time, she completed a post-graduate certificate in resilience-based family therapy through the Chicago Center for Family Health, and she trained in both Strengths-Based Care Management and Team/Program Development. Heather is also a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

In her free time, Heather loves spending time with friends and family, including her witty husband Joey and their two silly sons, Jack and Ike. You might also find Heather people watching at any local coffee shop.

Mark Henderson