Francesca Douglass-Franco learned about human trafficking and the gap in the restorative services related to it while she was working as a Criminal Intelligence Specialist in LA. She realized that the victims have to live with the trauma that stops them from moving on in life even after getting rescued. Keeping this in mind, Francesca founded Humansave, a mental health nonprofit that serves human trafficking and child sexual exploitation survivors across Southern California.
Francesca moved to the US from the Philippines with her mother when she was five years old. Her father was supposed to follow after settling his business matters but passed away due to heart ailments. Their life took an unexpected turn and her mother took on the role to provide for the family as a single mother. They lived through food stamps, went to school in ‘at risk’ neighborhoods, and shopping at thrift stores. Even with everything going on, she and her mom made it a point to spend time together. Her mother now serves as a Clinical Director at Humansave with Francesca. She learned the importance of experiences over material things and that anything is possible if you have enough belief, grit, and discipline from her mother.
Francesca wanted to work in the Intelligence field from a very early age. Her stepdad, a retired colonel, instilled in her the values of patriotism, freedom, and unconditional love. After getting her bachelor’s in linguistics, she worked as a program director helping the victims of crime and their families. She worked as a Spanish interpreter at her mother’s private practice. After having a daughter at 22, she went back to school to pursue a master’s in Forensic Psychology with a focus on Homeland security. She worked in the field and later in Law enforcement for 2 years before starting Humansave. She realized she wanted to help the victims of human trafficking and started the organization with the help of her friend and mother.
Talking about her organization, she says, “Our mission is to end the demand for human trafficking within our generation by: providing specialized in-home/shelter services to survivors of human trafficking and their families across Southern California; and by facilitating human trafficking Awareness + Prevention training for businesses, the community, and especially at-risk youth”.
Francesa started the organization from scratch with no prior knowledge of how things work. From filing paperwork, getting clients on board, developing PnP to graphic designing, building the website, she had to figure it all out by herself. Presently, she faces challenges with the funding. They bill the state for the services it takes up to a year to get paid. Also, the state puts caps on the amount of sessions each victim can get. Francesca notes that such deep-seated trauma can’t heal in just 40 sessions. They want to be there for the client until they no longer need them. She is working on getting foundation grants but wants the support of the local community through donations for the betterment of the victims. “No matter how small the donation is, this would be a direct reflection of everyone’s investment in the solution to end human trafficking“, she says.
Nevertheless, Francesa is happy with the positive response the organization has received from the community. They have partnered with many state organizations and have received unexpected funds from foundations to keep the non-profit thriving. She likes to find solutions to problems and implement them the very next day. She inspires us to use our knowledge and experiences to help the needy and vulnerable and do our bit for the community. Leaving a message in this regard, she says- “If you come from a place of humility and empathy, no matter what industry you work in, no matter the obstacles you face or where you come from, you will change the world.”