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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Naked Photos of My Grandmother Led Me to Fight Sex Trafficking

This is a guest post from a mother and philanthropist living in San Diego, California, Barbara McNally.

No, those two things aren’t directly related. After my grandmother passed away in her 90s, my mother and I came upon a collection of boudoir photographs among her effects (and yes, she was a willing participant in having these taken).

All my life I’d been compared to my Grandma Pat, a flapper and suffragette who was bold and passionate, but discovering these racy photos, I realized I was nothing like her. I’d just gotten out of a deeply dependent marriage and was finally free, but I didn’t know what to do with my freedom. So with the recently deceased Grandma Pat as my internal guide, I set out on a voyage of self-discovery—to ignite the passion that was lacking in my life.

Barbara McNally

I started in Ireland, the land of my ancestors, where I danced with horsemen and communed with priestesses, then soon set off on another kind of adventure—a visit to a swingers resort in Jamaica. But my attempt to be like my exuberant, carefree Grandma Pat resulted in something unexpected: I discovered how I wanted to give back to the world.

In a twist of fate, my taxi cab broke down on the way to ride horses at the beach. Looking to use the phone at a building nearby, I ended up at the Windsor Girls Home—an orphanage that keeps girls off the streets and out of prostitution.

The girls at Windsor endure extreme poverty, rampant abuse, and blatant exploitation. One day, they would leave the protective walls of the orphanage and re-enter the outside world. A few might succeed in their new lives, but most would probably either join a convent to stay within the safety of institutionalization or fall back into a life of abuse and prostitution. I wanted to be a mother to every one of those girls. I wanted to give them freedom.

Working with these disempowered girls, I realized that I had the keys not only for my own freedom, but to help other women find theirs. While at Windsor, I made a decision that I was going to find a way to help other women achieve financial, political, and sexual freedom so they could live independent, original lives.

When I returned home, I started Mother Lover Fighter Sage. The foundation offers workshops, seminars and scholarships, including Dress for Success and writing workshops, to help encourage women to live fully and lead authentic lives. With my background in physical therapy, and my experiences volunteering abroad, our two main focuses have been:

  1. Sponsoring regular spa days for the wives of wounded warriors. When their husbands who serve our country come home wounded, these women’s lives are changed forever. As they adjust to their new normal, the spa day gives them the opportunity to enjoy being a woman, bond with other women who are also going through this transition, take some time to recharge, and mainly, learn the importance of caring for the caregiver. 
  2. Putting an end to sex trafficking. My vision and intention is to help girls caught up the sex trade, like the girls I worked with in Jamaica. Proceeds from my events and sales of my book Unbridled go towards fundraising for the Soroptomist Foundation to help prevent domestic violence, sex trafficking, enslavement, and other abuses to women and children everywhere.

If you’d like to donate and make a difference in a young woman’s life, please visit my website: www.unbridledfreedom.com/mother-lover-fighter-sage-foundation

A mother and philanthropist living in San Diego, California, Barbara McNally is the founder of Mother Lover Fighter Sage, a foundation dedicated to providing women with opportunities for growth and self-discovery. She tells her story in Unbridled: A Memoir. To learn more, visit her website at: UnbridledFreedom.com. You can follow Barbara at @liveunbridled or at facebook.com/liveunbridled.

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