We are excited to present our second #theincurablefanatic to you! Ashely is an amazing women with a heart of gold and a heart for social justice. She shares the heart of Ltd. in bring light to the nefarious crimes of sex trafficking and has started her own business Lorel Candle Co. to raise money to help organisations fight this crime and help survivors.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Lauren Ashley Punausuia, but you can just call me Ashley. I am 25 years old and currently in the process of finishing my bachelors degree. I hope to work with victims of sex trafficking, through intervention, specifically in Eastern Europe. I am looking to study Sociology and minor in Russian Studies.
Less formal and more fun facts about me: I love coffee, sunflowers, macarons, lavender and lemon flavored things (not in that order). Haha
Where did you first hear about human trafficking and how has impacted it you?
I was on staff with the International House of Prayer in Tallahassee, FL five years ago and it was during my time with them that I learned about human trafficking. The first organization I heard of was Redeem the Shadows; they were out of South Florida, but I don’t think they’re still operating. But, the kicker for me was watching the documentary, Nefarious, made by Exodus Cry later that same year. Now, I’ve never been trafficked, but just three months before learning about sex trafficking I had been in an unhealthy relationship with a guy who was sexually abused growing up. Seeing his brokenness and how it affected our relationship shook me up in a way I couldn’t recover from (in a good way). So when I saw Nefarious I felt like I could relate to those girls on a small (please note: very small) scale. This experience put a fire under me to begin the journey I’m now on–finishing my degree and serving in a practical way, as well as, volunteering locally until I finish my schooling and, then, get a full-time position helping these beautiful women and children.
We love your candle business that you have, Lorel Candle Co, tell us a bit more about it!
Thank you! I started Lorel out of my desire to help victims of sex trafficking. I’ve enjoyed making candles since the Christmas season of 2013, and last Sept (2015) I went to see a documentary about an organization called The Penny Bracelet. The girl who started the movement did so to help support the A21 Campaign and I thought, “I could do that! What’s one way I can use my gifts to support organizations helping these girls out of sex trafficking?”, and candles is my way of doing that. The goal is to support a different organization each month and feature them on the website, so people can learn about all the different ways they can get involved helping these beautiful people.
How has your relationship with God inspired you to do something about the issue of human trafficking?
God’s mercy in my life has been incredible. As I previously mentioned, I was in a relationship that was not honoring the Lord, but when I asked Him for help He gave it to me. Going through that has made me a more compassionate person, it’s soften my edges if you will, and it’s encouraged me to fight for these girls. He has fought, and continues to fight for me–to see me set free from addictions and lies, and these girls need people who are with them for the long haul. With them on those days when they aren’t being very kind, because they’re hurting from all the pain, or when they’re confused about life; they need those people who are willing to sit with them during those seasons just so they know they aren’t alone. Someone to say, “Hey, I may not be able to take the pain away, but I can sit with you and we can talk or not talk, whatever you’re wanting.” Someone to teach them life skills and how to socially interact with others in their communities… Just long-haul companions.
If you could give any advice to an Incurable Fanatics out there who wish to one day make a difference in the lives of those who are stuck in human trafficking or any other issue what would it be?
Don’t over complicate your ability to help. Look at your talents, your abilities and use them right now. You don’t have to have a degree before you can start helping these girls; you just need a willing heart and a lot of love.