Above is a photo of the Survivor Leadership Caucus and several CAST staff members at this year’s Freedom to Slavery Event. This photo belongs to CAST and was taken by Natasha Dangond.

On June 4, 2013 – the first Tuesday of the month and only my second day at CAST – I sat in on the monthly meeting of the Survivor Leadership Caucus. I had been told earlier by my supervisor Vanessa that I would be able to participate in it, but even then the experience didn’t seem real until I was actually sitting in the room with the incredibly strong people I had heard so much about. Not only was I able to sit in on the meeting, Ima also asked me to help coordinate the logistics for the meeting and asked my opinion during and before on things to be discussed in the meeting. There was so much energy, passion, and enthusiasm in the room. I had no doubt that everyone in that room was a leader. The Caucus is really the core of the CAST family. They remind everyone why all the work that is done is really worth it. They are living proof that we can not only help people, but that we can also create a larger group of advocates worldwide. The individuals in the Survivor Leadership Caucus may have come to CAST as victims of terrible crimes, but the word victim can no longer be used to describe them. They are survivors, leaders, advocates, and fighters.