How it all began
Elisabeth Furtwängler founded the Malisa Home project together with her mother.
1. When exactly did the idea for “Malisa Home” emerge and what inspired the project’s founding?
After graduating high school, I went to Asia. It was there, in Cambodia, that I first became aware of the terrible dangers of human trafficking. After that, when I went to the Philippines with a partner organization of German Doctors that took care of homeless children, I realized that the problem of prostitution of young girls was just as present there as it was in Cambodia. The children – living on the street and in poverty – were often victims of exploitation and abuse. When my mother visited me in the Philippines, we resolved to do something to stop this. That was how the idea of a safe house for girls who had become victims of prostitution and human trafficking came to be.
2. Please describe briefly how Malisa Home works.
Malisa Home is a safe house where girls who have been rescued from prostitution can find a new home. The girls who live here are taken care of and have the chance to pursue education and training in a field of their own choice.For a start, all girls go to school there, and after graduation, they can decide whether they want to continue their education by going to college or by learning a skilled trade. The education should help them to be able to stand on their own feet when they leave Malisa Home, without being dependent on other people.
I have experienced how important and empowering it is for the girls to share their stories with each other and give each other comfort. Among the staff is a female psychologist who regularly talks to the girls, both one on one and in bigger groups, to help them process traumatic memories. When the girls are together – cooking, playing, singing, dancing and swimming – you can see how they’re full of joy and energy. It seems like have become one big family where they give each other hope and are there for each other. The purpose of this project is to give the girls a loving home until they are no longer in danger and can, after a period of time, leave Malisa Home and start a new future.