Developing Survivor Leaders

Power of Story Workshop

The Advocacy and Power of Story workshop enables survivors to harness the power of storytelling to support their own continued healing and to develop themselves as leaders who can inspire collective action in their communities.

The workshop is loosely based on the work of Marshall Ganz on public narrative, which emphasizes the power of personal storytelling in the service of leadership. The public narrative model guides participants through the process of crafting a Story of Self (my personal story), a Story of Us (the community/audience you seek to mobilize), and a Story of Now (the invitation to act in the face of an urgent challenge). The simple framework is a compelling way to explore one’s own calling as a leader and to help survivors advocate for real change.

Nineteen survivor leaders in Ghana – the majority of whom were trafficked as children onto Lake Volta and forced to work on crude fishing boats – found spaces of healing and empowerment through this workshop.

Many testified that the workshop helped them be vulnerable and share parts of their stories that they never had before. The training offers participants a sense of community, reminding them that they need not be alone in what they have suffered. “We need to bring more survivors together,” said Godson.

Coach Gabriel, IJM staff, said, “Being in this space was deeply healing and transformative for these survivor leaders."

“I was not expecting to be called to be a leader,” said Linda, a survivor. “My life was in a mess on the lake. This training will help me go far.”

Trained Leaders

At the 2022 National Justice Conference in Ghana, survivors who had learned to tell their stories inspired community leaders to acknowledge the problem of injustice.

At the Justice Conference, Godson, a survivor leader who had completed the workshop, shared his story as a survivor of child trafficking. After speaking, he organized a reenactment of how children are lured into slavery.

Godwin, another trained survivor leader gave a presentation urging the Ghana police force, Department of Social Welfare, and Court of Law to recognize the pattern of slavery and to take steps to prevent it from occurring. According to Josephine Aparo, IJM Staff and survivor leader who helped facilitate the event, the audience began asking specific questions about how to end trafficking in their communities.

“Everyone in the room was moved,” said Josephine. “All of the survivor stories were so powerful.” Because of the bravery of these survivors and the influence of the storytelling movement, future generations will be protected from mistreatment.

Developing Survivor Leaders