Ethical Storytelling Initiative at AnnieCannons

Earlier this year, we entered into an exciting new partnership with the Dressember Foundation to explore meaningful, impact-driven ways to support and empower survivors who have experienced human trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence.

Dressember is a global movement that combines the power of fashion and creativity to fight human trafficking and fundraise for change, and has raised more than $13 million to support anti-trafficking work worldwide since 2013. 

Like AnnieCannons, Dressember is committed to centering survivor voices at the core of their work. As part of this collaboration, we will be sharing survivor stories and launching the AnnieCannons Ethical Storytelling Initiative, a recent but long-awaited effort to propel the voices from our community, forward.

Follow along with us as we listen to, learn from, and honor survivors on their journey to becoming software engineers.

“I’m a part of a community of individuals who understand me, and accept me as I am…it is the missing piece. Learning to code has made me whole. I didn’t know that I had such a strong work ethic, or that I have great study habits. I’m not treated like a victim here, I am treated like a burgeoning genius.”

Meet Morys. Age 33. 

He is a trafficking survivor and one of AnnieCannons’ newest trainees. He is a self-described learner, discoverer, and adventurer.

He describes his life calling to be experiencing “newness,” with a passion to “discover things I know nothing about…I want to see everything I can in my lifetime.”

Morys joined our training program earlier this year as one of 12 participants, and the first to identify as a cisgender man across the organization’s seven cohorts. 

He had been relocated 3,000 miles to a residential program for male trafficking survivors, and had been searching day and night for resources and guidance, any assistance to help get his life back. His goal? To live a life that made him “untraffickable.”

Among a host of tactics that traffickers employ to exploit individuals, Morys describes one of the key methods: isolation. 

“I was systematically cut off from personal connections and resources until all I had left was my traffickers. And without a connection to the world around me, all I was left with was decisions made by somebody else.”

At the time he found AnnieCannons, Morys was “homeless, broke, out of touch with friends and family and suffering catastrophic health issues” that nearly took his life. It was through sheer accident that he discovered AnnieCannons, through a Google search.

“When I saw the site, I saw not just a lifeline, but an entire learning environment that would catapult me out of my situation and into the life that I wanted for myself.”

His raw talent for programming was undeniable. During his initial screening test, Morys not only displayed keen intellect but a passion for learning. He excelled at the logical, visual-spatial, and focus-based exercises─key indicators for success in coding.

He brought these talents into the classroom and has shown up, day after day, with steadfast commitment. Last month, Morys successfully conquered digital literacy, the first stage of AnnieCannons’ training, and is now facing his next challenge: building functional websites. 

Morys channels his newfound passion for code with memes and self-discoveries that he generously shares with his classmates, even going as far as wishing for more assignments. When asked how the journey at AnnieCannons has been so far, Morys describes it as “glorious.” 

“This is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Thanks to AnnieCannons, I don’t feel scared or confused about what tomorrow brings. I know in my heart that I’m on a journey that will take me to places I never thought possible. I no longer see barriers, I see ladders and staircases and elevators. I can do anything I want for the rest of my life and nothing is going to stop me.”

Stay tuned for more updates on Morys and other AnnieCannons participants along their software engineering training journey.

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