What is Free The Girls mission?
Free The Girls helps women rescued from sex trafficking in developing countries to re-enter the workforce selling bras in the second-hand clothing markets. Through the collection of bras in western countries, we educate people and organizations worldwide about the scourge of human trafficking and inspire them to become Everyday Abolitionists to join the fight to end modern day slavery. Back to top of page.
Is Free The Girls worried about market saturation?
Currently our programs only operate in urban areas with significant population density. For example, Maputo, Mozambique is a city of 1.2 million people, so even if we were at full enrollment with 50 women selling bras, there would be little possibility of saturating the bra market in the foreseeable future with such a large population base. Back to top of page.
Doesn’t selling second hand clothing affect the development of a local textile industry?
There is no doubt that second-hand clothing may have had an effect on local production of clothing in Africa in the past. However, researchers have shown that the current impact is far less than would be assumed. In many marketplaces, used clothes are sold alongside new clothes—which are both imported and locally made. Regardless of origin, the low-cost new clothes do not compete well with imported used clothes because of the local perception that used clothes are generally of better quality than cheap new items. Moreover, developing countries lack the infrastructure (transportation, energy, etc.) to attract and support significant development of industrialized production of consumer goods, including clothing. Back to top of page.
Does Free The Girls allow bra drives outside of North America?
We know from experience the generosity of women in donating their gently used bras is universal. Because all inventory in our program must go through a standardized process of sorting and packing, we discourage women outside of North America from having bra drives because of the high cost to ship the bras to our inventory sorting facility in the United States We are currently exploring the possibility of establishing an inventory sorting facility in a port city in Europe, so if you have contacts which could help us secure donated warehouse space in a port city along with a strong volunteer base, please let us know! However, this doesn’t mean we don’t want you involved! Become an ambassador for Free The Girls by holding a fundraiser or spreading the word in your community. Back to top of page.
Why are some bras Free The Girls collects sent to recycling?
Like any other article of clothing, bras which are stained, torn, or worn out do not sell in the second hand clothing markets. Although these bras make up a small percentage of the bras we collect, rather than pay to send them overseas where they are unsellable, we choose to redirect them to a textile recycler who pays us a modest fee per pound. The bras are sorted by the recycler who sends the large-size, good-condition bras to programs for exploited women in the United States, while it sends the poor-condition bras to be recycled into such items as building insulation and industrial plastics. Back to top of page.
I saw the CNN story “Mozambique or Bust,” doesn’t LRI ship the bras for free?
No. LR International is a freight forwarding shipping company that provides two things to Free The Girls at no cost: 1) warehouse space; and 2) freight forwarding services (in other words, they make the arrangements to transport bra inventory internationally). Free The Girls still has to pay all the other costs related to shipping such as fumigation, customs documentation, transportation over land and sea, and import duties, taxes, and other fees. Back to top of page.
Is Free The Girls forcing African women to wear bras?
Our programs are set up in urban areas, where the women have long ago been exposed to Western culture, including the idea of wearing undergarments for support and shaping. Free The Girls program operates within this niche market and offers women better access to good-quality and properly-fitting undergarments. Back to top of page.
How long can women be in the Free The Girls program?
There is no set time frame for how long a woman can be in our program. We have seen women secure outside employment in less than six months after starting our program and there are others who remain in the program for several years. The process of healing and restoration is unique to the individual based on a number of factors such as the age of entry into trafficking, physical health, family, mental health issues, and education. Back to top of page.
How much do the women charge per bra?
Depending on the program location and quality of the individual bra being sold, the women in our programs can sell bras for $1 to $10 per bra. When you consider the local minimum wage in many of these locations is as little as $3 per day, our program allows the women to make three to five times the local minimum wage! Back to top of page.
Why does Free The Girls sell the bras to the women when the bras were donated?
Free The Girls mission is to provide job opportunities to women rescued from sex trafficking by helping them set up micro enterprises selling bras in the second hand clothing markets. Women receive the initial inventory of bras for free, including bras for their own use. By selling them additional inventory for their stores at a price that is well below local wholesale prices, we give them a competitive advantage over other sellers and we allow the program to be self-sustaining in terms of paying customs and import fees Free The Girls is charged by the foreign countries to import the huge container loads of bras.
More importantly, Free The Girls is training the women we work with to operate a business. We have witnessed a significant amount of dependency that is created when people and organizations give away products in the past. The beneficiaries of the free goods often times have difficulty transitioning to the marketplace because they are addicted to free handouts. We can’t help them learn to run a business or work for someone else one day when they are trained under conditions that are unnatural. Our job is to help them transition back to the marketplace. Back to top of page.
What does Free The Girls do with the money from selling bras to the women?
The money charged selling bras to the women in our programs is used to pay our in-country costs including a salary for program staff person, import customs, fees, and taxes, transportation, and storage. Back to top of page.
What church started Free The Girls?
Free The Girls was started by co-founders Dave Terpstra and Kimba Langas. Kimba met Dave when he was the teaching pastor at her church, TNL, in Englewood, Coloardo. Free The Girls was started after Dave left TNL to work as a missionary in Mozambique for World Venture. Neither TNL or World Venture were formally involved in the formation of Free The Girls. However, like many other faith based organizations who have supported Free The Girls in the past five years, TNL and World Venture are both long-time supporters of our work. Back to top of page.
Is Free The Girls a Christian organization?
Free The Girls is inspired by the love of Christ to love all people and to fight for justice and wholeness for survivors of sex trafficking. We embrace and care for these women and girls regardless of their religion. Our desire is to see a world where all are free.
We are a non-denominational Christian organization founded by a group of people inspired by the love of Christ to dedicate their lives to helping the survivors of human trafficking. All of our board members are Christians who share in this passion. Many, but by no means all, of our staff and volunteers come from a church background. We have a high expectation that our staff works in a way that reflects core values of respect, tolerance, passion for justice and appreciation of the value of individuals. Back to top of page.
Are the women required to go to church?
No. While our board and many of our volunteers identify themselves as Christians, Free The Girls mission does not include an evangelistic component.
Our Board of Directors hope that our work and the good that comes of it speaks of the love of God, but we do not impose our personal or organizational values on the women in our programs. We are acutely aware of the vulnerability of survivors of sex trafficking and we treat them with the highest level of cultural sensitivity. We serve women who have originated from all across the globe and from a diverse mix of cultures. We do utilize the programs of some faith-based organizations that provide aftercare for victims of trafficking. The nature of our work, however, is not evangelistic. We are focused on providing training and logistical support for survivors of trafficking so that they might rebuild their lives and experience freedom. No one in our programs is turned away for religious beliefs nor are they required to participate in religious programs or training in order to be in the programs. Back to top of page.
Can I visit Free The Girls program in Africa or Central America and see the women selling bras?
Because of the nature of working with women who have been victimized, it takes time to build relationships of trust with the women in our programs. We do not want to risk re-victimizing them by putting them on display to our well-meaning, curious supporters. Instead, as the women work through the after-care programs with our partners and get healthy, we ask them to volunteer stories about their lives that we can share with our supporters. Back to top of page.
Can I visit Free The Girls program in the United States and see the inventory facilities?
Absolutely! We are proud of our partnership with Duneland Community Church and the community of Chesterton, Indiana. Our Inventory Manager would be happy to give you a tour of the facilities or work with you to schedule your visit during one of our monthly packing parties. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Back to top of page.