Participatory Assessment of a Matched Savings Program for Human Trafficking Survivors and their Family Members in the Philippines

Laura Cordisco Tsai, Ivy Flor Seballos-Llena, Rabia Datta


Survivors of human trafficking often experience considerable financial difficulties upon exiting human trafficking, including pressure to provide financially for their families, challenges securing employment, lack of savings, and familial debt. Few evaluations have been conducted of reintegration support interventions addressing financial vulnerability among trafficking survivors. In this article, we present findings from a participatory assessment of the BARUG program, a matched savings and financial capability program for survivors of human trafficking and their family members in the Philippines. Photovoice was used to understand the experiences of two cohorts of BARUG participants. Survivors collaborated with research team members in conducting thematic analysis of transcripts from the photovoice sessions. Themes included: the positive emotional impact of financial wellness, overcoming the challenges of saving, applying financial management skills in daily decision making, developing a habit of savings, building a future-oriented mindset, receiving guidance and enlightenment, the learning process, and the change process. Findings reinforce the importance of interventions to support trafficked persons and their family members in getting out of debt and accumulating emergency savings, while also providing emotional support to survivors in coping with family financial pressures. The study also highlights the value of using participatory research methods to understand the experiences of trafficked persons.



photovoice; participatory research methods; human trafficking; saving; financial capability; individual development accounts

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Copyright (c) 2017 Laura Cordisco Tsai, Ivy F Seballos-Llena, Rabia Datta

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