Hear from the victim and survivor

Impact Stories

Start Anew! Wow where do I begin?

I met the founder of Start Anew, at a workshop, on a University campus. I didn’t know what to expect, due to, it being my very first time, educating myself about the prison system and the intricacies of what the “system” is all about.

After the presentation was done, it was time for the breakout sessions, where we could meet the panelists and learn from them. That’s where I met Ms. Cecilia Viel, and our sisterhood began there. Over the next few months, I’d come to learn and know, that I didn’t know very much about the prison industry. 


After coming under the “tutelage” of Ms. Cecilia, by joining her, alongside a group of women, who meet on a weekly basis, to discuss how we can better improve ourselves, our shortcomings, readjusting to this “new way” of existing, because now there’s a label attached to our names. Admittedly it was a transition, to say the least, but our weekly meetings and interactions with one another, it has truly made adapting a lot easier. Having a sisterhood, so to speak where you can come and let your hair down, laugh, as well as learn how to adapt to your new way of living in society.


Start Anew, has assisted us with our deposits for new housing. Assisted with providing information on housing, starting a new job, advancing on our current jobs, learning about health and nutrition, and having an overall sisterhood, has offered a fresh breath of air, where at times it felt stagnate and immovable. 


I thank Almighty God, for our meeting that day on the college campus. Not there as a University student, yet not knowing that Ms. Cecilia and Start Anew would be a new start for me and my future. I am humbly grateful to Almighty God, for Ms. Cecilia and the ladies at Start Anew.

Thank you 

Sandra Abu-Bakr