Catherine’s Cottage Garden Provides Solace for Trafficking Survivors
By: Janeen Johnally
Since its opening in May, Catherine’s Cottage of The Salvation Army of Central Maryland has been a safe place for human trafficking survivors to call home in Baltimore. One characteristic that gives residents a sense of security is the prayer garden.
Trafficking survivor Hailey recently came to Catherine’s Cottage for services. Though she had reservations about entering the program, Hailey liked its peaceful environment. She was eager to escape her situation and begin her path to restoration.
Residents are asked to wash their clothes upon admission to the program to prevent the transfer of bedbugs. After Hailey left for the basement to do her laundry, staff noticed she had been gone a long time.
Fearing she might have run away, staff went to check – only to find Hailey crying in the prayer garden. Ever since, the garden has been a comforting space for her.
“It’s so peaceful over there,” Hailey said.
According to Anti-Trafficking Program Director Shamere McKenzie, other Catherine’s Cottage residents also find solace in the prayer garden.
While preparing for therapy, “Ms. Jay” broke down while recalling the traumatic slaying of her best friend. Inconsolable, she visited the prayer garden. There, she became serene and relaxed.
Asked why the garden might be such a common place of comfort for residents, McKenzie said, “I believe it’s because it’s the only place in the house that has no connection to a trafficking experience. It’s just nature.”
Hailey now meditates in the garden every day. She has found it a comfortable place for her to release her emotions. So much so, that when its flowers recently wilted, Hailey informed staff that she intends to plant new flowers herself to restore the garden.