Giving Back: How Sandler Made a Difference in Africa

Odds are you have never heard of Jennifer Crow – but you should definitely know her story. She’s a Sandler practitioner like no other.

Jennifer is not a salesperson. She’s not a sales leader. She’s got no sales responsibility, direct or indirect. She is the is the founder of the Beautiful Dream Society, an Oklahoma 501(c)3 corporation, and Beautiful Dream Society of Lesotho, a government certified organization, dedicated to fighting exploitation and instilling value by helping victims of human trafficking and orphans in Lesotho, Africa. Jennifer and her organization work in support of the United States government’s mission to stop human trafficking worldwide.

“We are the first and only shelter for victims of human trafficking in the country of Lesotho,” Jennifer explained in a recent interview with Sandler’s Mike Montague. “We work in coordination with the Lesotho government and with the US embassy there. We also raise awareness to schoolchildren in Lesotho about the realities of human trafficking. Not many people have heard of the country of Lesotho. So, a little background information: this is the second highest per capita for HIV infection of any country in the entire world, and that problem causes a huge number of children without parents in Lesotho, because their parents have passed away due to HIV/AIDS, and that makes them vulnerable to human trafficking operations in the surrounding country of South Africa.

“Many kids in Lesotho are offered fraudulent work opportunities in South Africa. They’re hungry, they’re poor, they don’t have a hope for their future, they have no parents, they see no options in front of them. Then the day comes when they get offered a job. They agree to take the job because they don’t think they have any other choice. They’re taken across the border to South Africa without proper documentation, and even though they’ve been promised a job in a shop or in some other setting, when they get to their destination, they end up being coerced into sex trafficking or labor trafficking schemes. Lots of these vulnerable kids are threatened, coerced, abused, and raped by the people who run these operations. They’re imprisoned and forced to work, either as sex workers or as manual laborers. Sometimes they are forced to work eighteen or twenty hours a day for very little pay – nothing like what they were promised. So, we help these rescued women and girls who have either escaped with the help of the police or they’ve escaped on their own. We help to rehabilitate them and help them find healing and safety. That’s our mission.

Perhaps you’re wondering at this point – what does any of this have to do with Sandler? Plenty.

“Something else that we do,” Jennifer explains, “is help monitor the border crossing points between Lesotho and South Africa, to try and intercept young girls before they cross the border. We aim to identify girls who are being targeted by human traffickers, connecting with them one-on-one, and let them know they have options they may not have considered. There are some special techniques that we’ve learned about bonding and rapport and interviewing from Sandler, and we’re happy to say that that’s been a very effective program for us.

“So, a 14-year-old girl, for example, might not have a passport because she’s an orphan. And the person she’s texting with or talking to in South Africa might tell her, ‘No worries, you can still get a job even if you don’t have to have a passport, we’ll get you past the authorities with no problem.” Now, there are very long lines of people at these immigration facilities, and our team is specially trained to study those lines so they can try to stop the abuse before it happens, before these girls even cross the border – because that would be better than having them come to our shelter after they’ve been abused for two years. And our monitors know how to identify young people who look like they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Maybe they say they’re traveling; they’re going to stay in South Africa for six months…but they have no suitcase. Something like that catches our attention, and so our team wants to interact with them. As you might imagine, this is a conversation with someone who needs to be handled with great care, because they’re vulnerable people. They don’t know who they can trust. So, our monitors will use Sandler’s bonding and rapport techniques, and they will also use the Sandler pain funnel questions, to create a strong dialogue with these at-risk kids. And those conversations have helped a lot of them to change their plans, to stay out of the reach of human traffickers, to avoid situations where they would have been victimized horribly – and to get the help they need.”

It’s an amazing story, and Sandler – in the form of franchisee Mike Crandall, who awarded a scholarship to Jennifer’s organization – helped to make it possible.

To learn more, check out our interview with Jennifer Crow.

Click here to donate to Jennifer Crow’s organization, Beautiful Dream Society.