Donaldina Cameron House has provided faith-based support to Asian women and their families for over 135 years.
Started by the Presbyterian Church as the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1874, it's initial purpose was to intervene on behalf of young, Asian, immigrant females who had become vulnerable upon arrival into the United States.
These women and girls were smuggled into the United States thereby circumventing immigration laws that excluded them. Asian women were commodities that were bought and sold (even by their own family) as property which became known as the "yellow slave trade".
Bogus 'contracts' were created to enforce this system of slavery in which Asian women became domestics or prostitutes. The contractual conditions specified insurmountable recourse for women to purchase their own freedom. There are many thousands of Asian immigrant women who have died in enslaved conditions in San Francisco.
Miss Donaldina Cameron came to the Occidental Mission Home as a sewing teacher; she stayed forty years devoting her life as a missionary creating a foundation assisting Asian women victimized by violence and discrimination.
The mission of Cameron House services has evolved over the years resulting in an agency that is a comprehensive family service organization serving low income, Asian immigrants, youth and families in San Francisco.
Recent events in Asia and the Pacific Rim indicate that the influx of immigrants from those areas, particularly into San Francisco and the Bay Area, will steadily increase. The Cameron House reputation throughout the Asian community is one of an organization that is culturally and linguistically accessible to those encountering life crises.
Cameron House is committed to enter the new century in a state of readiness to meet the challenge of assisting new immigrants and others assimilate into a new society and culture.
Donaldina Cameron was only 25 years old when she began her missionary work in Chinatown.
An old view of Sacrmento Street, as a cable car passes Cameron House.
Donaldina Cameron during a rescue. She saved hundreds of women from slave trade.