~This new web series takes a deep dive into the Tahirih Justice Center’s challenging yet rewarding work, and the champions who show up day after day to get it done.~
Can you imagine a world where your freedom and the safety of your children are in constant jeopardy? Where you’re unsure what you’ll eat, where you’ll live or when you’ll rest? This is the harsh reality faced by many of Tahirih’s clients currently pursuing justice in the U.S. legal system. The assistance provided by Tahirih’s Social Services team makes the dream of freedom and safety seem a little closer, helping women and girls to harness their strength and overcome their battles one day, one barrier, at a time.
Meet Hania Luna, a member of the Social Services team in Tahirih’s Houston office. As a child of Mexican immigrants, Hania’s acute awareness of the struggles and successes immigrant families experience was informed by her upbringing. This awareness led to a deeply rooted empathy for the clients she now advocates for through Tahirih, an understanding that lends itself to her being an ally for women and girls fleeing violence in search of a life in which freedom and safety are respected as inherent rights.
In her role as Social Services Associate, Hania provides social services case management to new and existing clients through referrals, individual and systems advocacy, and community education. The hats she wears are varied and include everything from accompanying a client to a medical appointment, accessing English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and conducting general public outreach at community events.
Hania does not see her role solely as a service provider, but as a companion to her clients on their road to creating a new world for themselves. She strives to build a relationship of confidence and trust, establishing a spirit of solidarity with the women she serves.
“Trust is a big factor for service provision. At Tahirih we provide information our clients can trust and support them in their efforts to self-advocate. To be able to trust your attorney, your case manager, to know you are safe calling your doctor’s office, or registering your child in a new school is monumental. If we can be a genuine place of support for our clients, that is the difference we are making in their lives.”
Hania helps each woman embrace the voice that brought her to Tahirih in the first place. Continual self-advocacy is essential, and for a client to hear Hania say that what happened to her is NOT her fault, that she is NOT an object, and that she DOES have rights, builds the foundation for the work yet to be done. While Hania cannot promise her clients that nothing bad will happen in the future, she can and does equip them with the tools needed to see themselves in a different light. They are reminded they are not alone.
“When you hear a woman who has been through many difficult situations tell you how she’s standing up for herself, has drawn a line in the sand for her own well-being, it’s beautiful. To remain hopeful through it all, that’s real beauty. Life can be so gut-wrenching sometimes but people survive. Individuals are capable of such resilience!”