Mend on the Move program aims to empower women who have survived abuse

By Alex Rouhandeh

DETROIT - Sabrina Miller is a 40-year-old mother of three. Her children are all girls: a 22-year-old, a 16-year-old and an 11-year-old. Sabrina is a survivor of human trafficking.

“I was transported from I-94 and Conners Avenue to Chicago and Cleveland,” Miller said.

Sabrina said that, during her years of being trafficked through the country, her life was filled with sexual abuse and drugs and she felt she had no way out. 

Eventually, the police conducted a sting and Sabrina was freed. She said she is now getting her life on track.

“I'm now a better parent. I'm not on drugs,” Miller said.

Sabrina said her job as a jewelry artist at a nonprofit called Mend on the Move has been instrumental in her healing.

“I am now living a structured life. I am in environments where I have nothing but support,” Miller said.

Mend on the Move, operated by Joanne Ewald, who is also a survivor of abuse, is a jewelry business that employs women who have survived abuse. 

Working at Mend is more than just a job to the women who work there. It is a home and a safe haven.

“I know I'm safe here,” Miller said. “I'm able to share whatever personal things I go through, and I'm able to be supported throughout those decisions or incidents that I may have encountered.”

During its early days, Mend operated out of a revolving number of kitchens and basements. But now, Ewald has secured a recreational vehicle to act as a mobile jewelry-making studio.

“It's our place we can call our home.” Ewald said. “And it's so cheerful and pleasant to be in there.”

Since the purchase of the mobile studio, Mend has been able to expand its business to Pontiac and offer opportunities to more survivors than ever before.

“I can say that I'm going to give you a job and treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve,” Ewald said. “And, hopefully, that will give you a jump-start into getting your life back in order.”

Sabrina and the other 40 women who have been employed by Mend show that Ewald’s mission is alive and well.

If you would like to shop Mend’s jewelry or offer a donation, you can support the business by visiting MendOnTheMove.org

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