Stavely gal making her mark on the world (December 7, 2011)

Written by J.W. Schnarr

Published by Claresholm Local Press on Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jocelyn Grant's life has taken her halfway around the world and back. Grant, who has a degree in Development Studies from the University of Calgary, is currently relaxing back at home in Stavely and getting ready for new opportunities after a six month stay in Ethiopia and Kenya to battle prostitution.

Grant worked extensively with women involved in the prostitution trade as part of a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) internship with involvement from Samaritan's Purse. Two-thirds of the funding was from CIDA, with the remaining third coming from Samaritan's Purse.

Grant said going to Kenya made it possible to implement a hands-on approach to helping women get off the streets.

"By going to Kenya we were actually able to reach out to women stuck in prostitution and rehabilitate them so they could get their lives back on track," she said.

Grant was a little overwhelmed by how many women were involved in the prostitution trade in Africa.

"One thing that really had an impact on me was just the sheer volume of women working on the streets trying to make ends meet," she said.

Grant recounted a night drive they took while in Ethiopia to get an idea of how many people were involved in prostitution. The results shocked her.

"On one wall of a building I counted 36 women," she said. "And there were hundreds upon hundreds we drove by that night."

Grant said that so little value is placed on these women that they are selling their bodies for as little as a single dollar.

"Most of them make between $1 and $10 per trick," said Grant. "It's nothing. And it's nothing for them either. It's terrible."

Another issue the women deal with as rural prostitutes is the fact most of their clients are from the same rural areas they themselves live in. This can make re-integrating into the community difficult.

"One lady we talked to had become friends with a local pastor and gone through counseling with him, so she decided to start going to church. She told us there were men in the church with her who had been her clients. It's definitely another obstacle they need to overcome."

After spending six months in Africa, Grant said that she has some mixed feelings about leaving.

"There is a lot of hope," she said. "We left the program in a really good spot. It just needed to get started and it could be amazing. But you develop relationships with people over there, and it's sad to leave them. In six months I think you get to know people pretty well."

Grant also believes there is still a long way to go for these kinds of programs.

"There's still so much work to be done," she said. "You leave a place like that knowing you've just kind of scratched the surface, but you hope for the best."

Grant said she got involved with CIDA because she's always had an interest in social development, even as a school student.

"As a kid I was always into social studies," said Grant. "When I was in high school the guidance councillor asked me to check out a degree in development offered by the University of Calgary.  So I did, and I loved it, so I stuck with it. When I found out about the CIDA internship I applied and was turned down, but I applied again the next year and that time I was accepted. It was very exciting."

Grant said there were very few things left undone with her time in Kenya and Ethiopia, and that she took full advantage of opportunities as they arose.

"I feel like it was a good time. I got to go rafting down The Nile River," she said. "It was pretty cool. If you ever get the chance, you should do that."