Woman in Progress: Erena Bordon Sanchez, founder The Natashas Project
To mark the United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons we have our latest Woman in Progress: Erena Brodon Sanchez, founding director and choreographer of The Natashas Project. Erena and her contemporary dance company use dance to inform the public about human trafficking within modern day slavery, as well as supporting survivors using performance, education, and restorative workshops. The Natashas Project has recently received Arts Council funding. With support from her husband, Erena has recently stopped teaching to focus all her attention and efforts on the future work of The Natashas Project.
What’s the one thing in your life that makes things easier?
My husband – I married my best friend! When things in life or work become overwhelming, very busy or too much, he knows exactly what I need. Sometimes a good laugh, help talking things through, practical help or to pray with me. He truly has my back in every situation, which has made my life both easier and an exciting adventure.
What’s one thing that you would stop if you could?
I would stop human trafficking and modern day slavery.
There is more slavery today than in the 1800s when slavery was abolished. It happens by people being deceived, manipulated, lied to, kidnapped and forced to work in various ways such as sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and labour exploitation. These people usually not paid, not well fed and are unable to leave either due to being kept locked up or because of the psychological manipulation, they are too scared to leave. This isn’t a problem kept abroad: it is a big issue in the UK across all ages and genders. This is the injustice I would stop.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
10 years ago was a transformative summer for me where I discovered how much I had let fear stop me from doing and enjoying so many things, so I my advice to myself would have been: never give up on your dreams, your passions, or the people you love. Don't let fear stop you from these things.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at work?
The importance of being a team, especially when dealing with human trafficking as a subject but also survivors. Having a team that is caring, positive and passionate about the subject matter is so important as is working together and not working alone. Not only is it more productive but also it makes for a more supportive environment. My team are truly are the best.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at home?
How important it is for me to switch off from work and rest otherwise I never stop and it's just not healthy. I need to set a curfew and stop, whether that's getting a cup of relaxing tea, going for a walk, doing something with a friend, basically doing anything that gets me out of my work head.
What top tip would you pass on to other women in progress reading this?
I'm afraid I don't have just one: laugh with the people you love as often as you can - laughter is so healing. Love with everything you have, and don't let stress steal your joy! Life is too short to have spent it stressing about getting through a to do list. Finally, stand up for those who have no voice to stand up for themselves.
What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?
It's very hard to say just one thing as I don't think I could live without my husband, family and friends, however I have to say the main thing I couldn't live without would be my faith in Jesus. My faith brings me an indescribable peace when faced with various situations, not only in my personal life but also when dealing with the issue of human trafficking at work. I gain strength, perseverance and joy to keep doing what I do and guidance in which direction to take in life.
Are you done yet? What’s next?
No! Next is an exciting adventure for The Natashas Project as we work to take out our new production On Demand to continue informing, equipping and inspiring people about the issue of human trafficking and how together we can end it. Keep a look out for our new promotional launching soon to tell you more about On Demand, what it is and what we will be doing with it.