This month’s Sauvé Spotlight is 2011-12 Sauvé Fellow Alia Whitney-Johnson, who recently launched a residential center for young survivors of abuse in Sri Lanka.
Having launched her first venture at the age of seven, through which she became an internationally commissioned jewelry designer, Alia has always had a passion for design, entrepreneurship, and organizational development.
Alia’s greatest passion lies in her work in Sri Lanka with young women who have survived sexual abuse. After traveling to Sri Lanka in the summer of 2005, she founded the Emerge Beads-to-Business Program to enable Sri Lankan teenage mothers who had survived rape to develop business and life skills through jewelry design. As the program grew, she formed Emerge Global, an organization that works with survivors of abuse.
In August 2016, Alia launched the Emerge Center, a trauma-informed residential empowerment center for young survivors of sexual abuse as they transition from shelters into their independent, adult lives. For more than ten years, Emerge Global has equipped hundreds of girls who are living in shelters in Sri Lanka due to sexual abuse with business acumen, life skills, and financial resources.
As participants transition out of shelters and step into adulthood, however, they often need additional support while finding their first places to live, learning to take the bus, and interviewing for their first jobs. The Emerge Center was established to fix this problem. It provides a creative, experiential, and healing space that inspires self-discovery, cultivates a growth mindset, and equips participants with tools needed for independence. For a virtual tour of the Emerge Center, click here.