Project: Ruhama, Ireland [2015]


In Ireland the Sarah Bird Foundation worked with Irish women who had experienced gender based violence in their domestic communities, and refugees who had experienced conflict in their countries of origin. These women had been forced into prostitution and many of them have been trafficked into the country. A key organisation working in this field is Ruhama.

“It gave me part of my life back”

Ruhama was established in 1989. It is a Dublin-based organization that works on a national level with women affected by prostitution and with women who are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Its services are comprehensive to meet the broad range of needs of its clients. It advocates on behalf of its clients, works to effect policy change at government level, as well as raising awareness of the realities of prostitution.

Ruhama aims to offer a hope-inspiring service, a safe place, advocacy and ultimately empowerment which leads to the woman recovering from her experience of sexual violence and regaining control of her own life, thus achieving independence.

The Sarah Bird Foundation partnered with Ruhama, to offer their clients a programme that would introduce trauma healing techniques that help reduce anxiety and stress levels, allowing them to build resilience and confidence.

The programme taught them confidence building skills and proved highly successful, with Ruhama staff reporting unprecedented transformation in the women.

By the end of 2015, we had delivered three successful programmes for 38 severely traumatised women who were trafficked into prostitution in Ireland.

Our work allowed them to transform their lives and build resilience and the confidence to deal with day to day issues.

“I don’t have bad dreams at night anymore”

Participant Testimonials

“At the beginning of the session I was quite sceptical about how positive the long term benefits of the session would be. As a self-confessed stress-head, Sarah’s strategies made me feel calm during her delivery and I left feeling much more positive about my massive to do list. Now, a few weeks after meeting Sarah, I amazingly am still feeling the positive impacts the session had and colleagues at work have also commented on it. I’m a teacher and have passed on some of the activities to my 7-8 year old class, who now love beginning the school day with ‘tapping’ and then zipping themselves up to protect against negativity! An incredibly worthwhile session, which I think will help me enormously in daily life, but specifically when working overseas in a very different environment.”

Volunteer Mission Movement, Self-care Session Feedback

“Sarah Bird has worked with Ruhama for a number of years delivering her programme to our clients. As the Volunteer Manager I am acutely aware of the intense frontline work our volunteers do in supporting women, day in day out. We believe fostering an environment where our staff and volunteers are equipped with the tools necessary for their own self care is of vital importance and improves the quality of our work. The Sarah Bird programme is so broadly applicable to coping with everyday life stresses and strains that we thought it would be wonderful to be able to offer it our volunteer team. Sarah Bird is very approachable as a facilitator and creates an open, trusting environment in which to learn these practical techniques.”

Tara Brown, Volunteer

“As the saying goes “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. Yes, probably… but not always. These words echo like a mantra as I think about the taster session I attended with Sarah Bird earlier this year. I was there in my role as a volunteer with Ruhama (an NGO which works with women affected by prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation). The session was great: calming, refreshing, challenging. In just a few hours, Sarah showed us a number of techniques and gave us time to try them. She shared her experience, her enthusiasm, her conviction. I have now an expanded tool-box to deal with the stress life presents around and within me; to take back control when I feel – or know- I have lost it; to heal, to be fully alive and well. The techniques Sarah offers are simple, low-cost but effective: the biggest challenge is to keep using them. And I do… honestly… in my work.. in my life. They really do work.”

Ann, Volunteer