The Journey

Our nonprofit story began back in 2014 when our friend Emily traveled to Belize on vacation with her family. During her trip, she discovered many women who were undervalued and girls who were at-risk. She partnered with Michelle Nunez, a local Belizean young woman who had a heart for the girls, to register a Belizean NGO and start a high school group called S.H.I.N.E. (Shaping Healthy Identities through Nurturing and Empowerment). Britney Travis then joined Michelle in Belize after working alongside organizations for empowerment and anti-trafficking across SouthEast Asia and the U.S. Britney saw first-hand the devastation and tragedy of this modern-day slavery and felt God laid a boldness on her to step up and make a difference. After getting to know girls in safe homes who had been rescued, visiting the streets where they had previously worked, then hearing their stories of healing and freedom, her heart was ignited to be a part of the prevention and restoration process. Britney and Michelle, along with others who have now joined the team in Belize, have continued to walk alongside women and men of San Pedro, Belize to help in the prevention and empowerment efforts.

A space was needed for the empowerment programs as Shine continued to grow and it was discovered that Lions Den Belize was ending the lease of a “lady bar” in town. With the location being centrally located and next to the airport, it was a prime location for a community establishment. Shine partnered with another organization to present the idea of Hope Haven, a children’s home and the Shine empowerment center. Lions Den agreed to a 3-year, rent-free lease and so the construction began to transformed the bar into a children’s home and a space of resource and restoration. Now the space within these walls includes a food bank, a full time counseling center with play therapy, empowerment programs, a safe space for children, and community assistance. In addition, the once stripper pole in the bar is now the ballet bar in the Shine Center where preschool ballet is taught every week. The bar represents the restoration desired for all who enter Hope Haven.

The Est/Her Artisan program was birthed in 2017 with a small amount of beads and string and continued to blossom over time as more women became interested in the program. Currently, women in need of financialy assistance have the opportunity to create products which will be sold locally and internationally. Kate Stahlman and Dawna Roy started a sewing program, offering free classes to local women, and they have had a waiting list ever since. Their 12-week program includes steps to sewing that teaches them to make bags, bows, and uniforms. Kate took the lead for the Artisan program and mentored many women, including previous student Veronica Arthurs who became the new local Artisan leader. The program continues to improve their process and skills to reach more women each year. Est/Her meetings build a community of fellowship and provide women with self-confidence to create a sustainable future.

Our work would not be possible without the board members and volunteers who have walked with us throughout this journey starting back in 2014. Thank you to every person who has played a part in this ministry, from the construction of Hope Haven, the building of the 501c3, the financial contributions, emails of encouragement and prayers.

Our team has a global heartbeat for the brokenness all over the world. Our heart is to provide awareness, resources for prevention, and opportunity for restoration wherever God leads us.