Jessica Munoz – RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience


I had a dream to create a place of healing for a marginalized and vulnerable population of children who are often invisible to society. This dream became a reality after a 15-year journey, arduous seed planting, and multiple obstacles.

Fifteen years ago, my world was flipped upside down when, through my day job as a trauma nurse, children who were being mislabeled and abused, sexually exploited, and underrecognized as victims of child sex trafficking came into my world. I thought my role was solely to raise awareness of this hidden issue amongst my healthcare colleagues, but then the reality of the plight of these children became clear. The depth of the systemic issues that lead to victimization, the lack of empathy, and a comprehensive continuum of care became apparent.  I developed this relentless ache in my core for these children, and the activated justice gene on my DNA mandated my action… I envisioned a place of healing where girls who had been victimized could heal. Such a place didn’t exist. Healing of body, mind, spirit, and emotion… Transformative life-changing healing. My calling to shine the light into the darkness and watch new life come forth became my mantra.  I had no idea “how” to build this place, but I knew the end goal of what was needed.

I am not originally from Hawaii, but this was where I had been planted and the roots of where my work helping these children were seeded. Hawaii is beautiful, the land of aloha, beautiful sunsets, and beaches. Still, it also has a very dark side with vulnerable populations such as children who are being sex trafficked. Being a blonde-haired, blue-eyed outsider carries with it, very unique challenges, not only in developing an organization and business but also in raising funds, capacity, community buy-in, connections, and gaining overall acceptance. Then, layer on an issue that carries with it taboo and shame and is one of our time’s hardest and most challenging topics. Oh, and maintain your full-time job in the emergency room to pay your bills. I really had no idea what I was stepping into: the sabotage attempts, the promises that didn’t come to fruition, and challenging relationships. Likely, if I had known, I wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith to do SOMETHING. If I had not taken that leap, I would never have experienced the most incredible front-row seat and first-hand experience with divine miracles and connections. I also would have never learned the vital lessons about being patient. “No doesn’t always mean no. It often means not yet”. Timing is everything. My faith would not be what it is today!

The good, the bad, the challenges, the failures, and the triumphs have all played a part in galvanizing the resilience in my soul. I told myself many times, “This is too much,” “I can’t do this anymore,” “The road is too bumpy, and the mountains keep getting taller to climb,” “Can everyone stop putting more rocks in my backpack to carry. This is too heavy already!”. When these thoughts would come racing in as my head hit the pillow each night, I would think of the hundreds of children out there, being exploited, living on the streets, and remind myself WHY I had to keep going and that no matter what I went through it would never carry the weight of what one day, one hour, one minute in the day of the life of one of these kids. The least I could do was use my voice to disrupt in the name of safety and healing, keep pioneering, keep carrying the torch, shining the light until people could no longer look away, and inspire them to action, believing that together, we can bring transformational change for children.

Millions of tears and prayers have sprinkled the ground of what is now known as Pearl Haven: A Place of Healing. Even to this day, when I pull in the gate and breathe in the serenity and anointing of this space, I am humbled and honored to have been tasked with doing what many thought would be impossible. This work has gone through many seasons, just as my personal journey has walked parallel to those seasons. When you are a Founder, the parallel becomes intertwined. I believe, while it’s not always the best scenario, it is what gives you the resolve to keep going. The girls I am blessed to walk alongside as they embrace the hard road of facing their trauma and choosing to heal, remind me daily of the power and the magnitude of true resilient hope. 

You practice resilience every day- the moment you decide to get out of bed, put your feet on the floor, keep persevering, find your fortitude and the depth of your grit, and remain committed to carrying the torch forward. Sometimes, you also need to take a break.

Seasons are just that… seasons. Temporary. Transitional. Transformative. The seasons feel like refining fire, galvanizing deep-seated resilience, grit, and grace.

Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.