Everyday Abolitionist with Maria from Horse & Soul


What is an everyday abolitionist?

“Everyday Abolitionists don’t sacrifice their own identity for the cause, they make the cause part of their identity in small, meaningful ways every day.”

Read more about our take on Everyday Abolitionists one of our previous blog posts here.


Today we are excited to share about another Everyday Abolitionist, Maria from Horse & Soul.

Q. Where are you from and what are you passionate about? 

A. While I am originally from California, I now reside north of Houston in Conroe, Texas.  I grew up riding horses competitively in hunter/jumpers and eventing, and it is a deeply rooted passion in my life.  Horses were always a refuge for me, a place where I could get away and heal.  They were special to my life and allowed me to connect on a level that I acutely needed but had not experienced with people.  It wasn’t until later in my early twenties that I was able to find community where I could experience this same thing with others.

Q. Tell us about your heart for justice and what you decided to do about it.

A.  Everything that is wrong in the world, both on a micro and macro level is rooted in lies that people believe.  Lies can lead to two extremes causing people to either be the ones taken advantage of or the ones taking advantage.  If we believed the truth about ourselves and others - that we are precious and valuable - the world would become a much safer place.  I decided to help individuals and groups expose the unhealthy thought patterns that keep them stuck and help them move forward with healthy alternatives.

Q. Tell us about Horse & Soul! 

A. At Horse and Soul we help people live with hope and confidence in every area of their lives. We have served women coming out of addiction and incarceration, families on the verge of divorce, corporate teams wanting to grow in communication, and parents with their children working through past hurts and in need of tools for understanding one another. It is beautiful to see how every single time the horses intuitively know exactly what each person needs and God, in his gentleness and mercy, knows exactly what each person needs to hear.

Q. What inspired you to connect with Free The Girls?

A. The Executive Director of FTG, Courtney Skiera-Vaughn is a wonderful friend of mine and I love what FTG is doing to transform the lives and restore the dignity to women coming out of sex trafficking.  I love how God’s heart for justice and freedom has so many facets, from physical freedom, to emotional freedom, to spiritual freedom.  What a blessing to partner with an organization with the same piece of God’s heart! 

Q. How were you able to connect with and involve your local community? 

A. We were able to connect with and involve our local community through social media and bra collection events! We love seeing the community become passionate about setting the captive free and empowering women!

Q. How has your work with Free The Girls impacted you? 

A. Our work with Free The Girls has been a powerful reminder in our connectedness and our global responsibility to one another.  God loves seeing people come together to say "yes and amen!” to each other.  The beauty of the Kingdom is when we do so, we all win because it is His purposes that prevail.

Q. If you could inspire others to become everyday abolitionists too, what advice would you share? 

A. Start with where you are and the passions you already have!  Your passions are there for a reason and can be used by God.  When we pursue our God given passions two things happen - 1) we become the best and happiest versions of ourselves, the way God created us 2) people become attracted to what you are doing because of the joy they see in you.  

Q. Anything else you'd like to share? 

A.  I just want to thank you for taking the time to let me share a little bit.  Free The Girls is a gift to both the women you serve and those serving. It’s an honor to be a part of your community.

The Underwire Club



Like us, you believe the work to rebuild and restore women to freedom is the most worthy investment of our day - it frees generations to come.

To invest means that you expect a tangible positive outcome. We receive every single dollar as a committed investment and partnership to see women walk in total freedom.

We’re inviting you to become a monthly investor for two years. Becoming part of The Underwire Club means that you’re committing to see women restored! We’re so excited to invite you into this journey, and to know that you’ll be inspired by the impact you’re able to make.

If you haven’t heard yet, we’re seeking 48 passionate people to commit to two years of supporting a woman. Our reintegration and bra selling program lasts two years. You’ll get to follow her journey on a more intimate level. You’ll get to experience the joy and satisfaction in knowing that you’re making a true impact for a woman in a developing nation - for a survivor of human trafficking, and for the generations that follow.

So we're inviting YOU to follow her journey and commit to giving $28 a month for two years. You'll get exclusive behind-the-scenes information and stories. You'll get the opportunity to meet for a virtual coffee date with an FTG staff member to hear about the latest.

And best of all? You'll get the joy of knowing you're making a true and lasting impact for a survivor of trafficking!


You Matter

Hi friends! Courtney here.


We’ve got so many great things in the works right now that I am feeling a little guilty about taking a minute to write this.  I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop, looking out the window on a beautiful sunny day, the first hints of summer in the air.  I have my laptop out, and I’ve been working on an education component to our Everyday Abolitionist program – basically I have a document open that has a lot of awful stats about human trafficking.  The prevalence and scope of it, the amount of money generated yearly by oppressing and exploiting other human beings, and then an entire section on the complexity of survivorhood.  It’s for sure not the happiest Word document I’ve ever had opened.



I’ve been working on this for a few months now, and there are times when I’m in public that I’m hesitant to open my laptop.  I’ve had so many side-eye looks, looks of shock and horror when people get a little too nosey and glance at what I’m working on, quick turnarounds, even slumped shoulders.  I almost feel guilty sometimes – like I’ve ruined someone’s lovely day with in-your-face depressing reality.  But there have been more than a few people who have actually engaged in conversation with me, asked me what I’m working on, strike up a conversation about human trafficking. 


This is my favorite.


It is a heavy topic.  Trafficking puts the focus on depravity, violence, darkness.  But one of the things all of us at Free The Girls strive for is to be an avenue for people to enter into this difficult dialogue without feeling triggered, without a feeling of helplessness, without becoming hopeless or, even worse, numb and apathetic.


Because reality is – trafficking is horrendous.  But reality also is – it’s not hopeless.  You don’t have to be resigned to shake your head, feel a pit in your stomach, wish you could do something, and then go about your day with some unnamed guilt hanging over your head.



No.  You have a role to play. 

You do.  I promise. 

What you do makes a difference.



When you donate a bra, that becomes the actual inventory for a woman to sell in her business, making money in a manner full of dignity and confidence to feed herself, provide a home for her babies and children, and maybe even go back to school.


When you donate bucks, make a financial contribution or hold a fundraiser, those funds go towards sorting, repacking, and shipping those bras.  It goes towards tape, boxes, fumigation, shipping.  It goes towards programs like this education piece I’m currently working on that gets information into your hands for you to then educate others in your own community.


When you become a Bra Drop-off Location, you’re not only spreading awareness to your clients, customers, patients.  You’re also advocating for the women, leveraging your position in your community for the greater good on the other side of the world.


When you join The Underwire Club, we as a staff get to know you a little better, cultivate community with you, and you in turn get to know more of the ins and outs of what’s happening in our programs overseas, you get to celebrate with the women as they begin businesses and eventually graduate.

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What I’m trying to say is that what you do matters on multiple levels – in your own neighborhood and across the globe. 

What you do matters.  You matter.

It’s not hopeless, friend.  Don’t become numb.  Mobilize.  Be involved. 

Fight for global justice for survivors. 

Be a woman helping a woman.  Be an investor in a small business run by an incredibly capable woman who has overcome so much and is the very definition of resilience.

 We can’t do it without you.  Truly.

-Going to get a refill on this latte now,


You're Invited to Follow Her Journey

One of our mottos is “Eternally Optimistic”. We believe this in our bones, otherwise there’s no way we could do this day in and day out. There are dark realities associated with this work. There are real obstacles and challenges for every woman who enters our program. There are painful truths about human trafficking and sexual exploitation that we are confronted with on the daily. But as a friend of FTG, Jocelyn Doese says, “we will be the hopeful” because we have seen transformation, redemption, and restoration take root in the lives of the women who choose to sell bras and open her own business through our program.


We will be the hopeful.

Just as in any business venture, investors are key. While we couldn’t do what we do without all those bra donations showing up at our collection site over 300 days a year, the truth is our women need investors as well as inventory.

And so, we’d like to invite you to join THE UNDERWIRE CLUB!

Our program is created to be 2 years long. And as such, we are beginning a brand new monthly giving program that lasts for 2 years. As an investor during those 2 years, you’ll get exclusive insight into what the journey to true freedom looks like for women in Mozambique, El Salvador, or Costa Rica. You’ll get to catch a glimpse of what happens in that short 24 month timeframe that launches a woman into true freedom. From exploited to empowered, from scared and nervous to brave and bold, from having to live hand to mouth in a day by day fashion to planning for not only her own future, but the future of her children and even her children’s children.

The Underwire Club is for those committed to supporting our women. We are asking for $28/month. As a monthly donor in the club, you’ll be investing in new businesses (and the women who run them) in Africa and Central America.

We currently have 48 women in our program, and in honor of them, we are looking for 48 new monthly donors to commit for 24 months.

We invite you to join in the journey.

The journey of what it’s like for a woman to start her business, to experience challenges and celebrations along the way, and to honor the excitement and pride of graduation.

We are optimistic - eternally so - that more and more women who have been abused, exploited, oppressed, and trafficked into the commercial sex industry will arise as fierce businesswomen and leaders in their communities.

Will you join her?


Free The Girls Celebrates Nine Years!

Today marks nine years of seeing women become empowered in their freedom.

Today we want to celebrate and honor -

We want to celebrate the beauty and hope and restoration we’ve seen. We want to honor the struggles, the hardship, the realities of the issue as well as the resilience of the women who have changed their lives.


We thought it’d be fun to reminisce a little here and share some of the highlights of the life of Free The Girls over the last nine years. Of course there are many many significant moments and people involved. We couldn’t possibly fit it all in this blogpost. If you’ve been a part of FTG over the years, we want to take a moment recognize our DEEP THANKS to you. We could not do this work without you!


April 28, 2010 - Free The Girls is founded!

2010 - Mozambique program launch

February 2012 - CNN Freedom Project airs 3-part series on Free The Girls

March 2012 - Truckers Against Trafficking member Rickie Youngquist drives a truckload full of bras from Colorado to LR International in Chicago

November 2012- Bra Collection Site moves to Duneland Community Church in Chesterton, IN

January 9, 2013 - First DCC packing party is held

February 2013 - CNN Freedom Project 3-part “Mozambique or Bust” as a follow up to the 2012 series

2013 - El Salvador program launch

Jan 2014 - Uganda program launch

Dec 2016 - CNN story focusing on El Salvador

Dec 2017 - Mozambique and Uganda graduations and transitioning to independence

March 2018 - One millionth bra is collected!

2018 - Costa Rica program launched

2019 - Celebrating 9 years! Some EXCITING ventures in the works!

Check out this slideshow of some great memories over the years!

As we reflect on the last nine years and think about the next decade ahead, our hearts swell with joy and thanksgiving.

To see people of all walks of life come together to support and care about survivors of trafficking, to see women walking in freedom because of their resilience and determination, to see this beautiful mission continue to unfold….it re-ingnites our flame and get’s us even more hopeful for the future!

Thanks to all of you who have made these last nine years so special.

We believe ALL people are made to be free.

We believe in nothing less than total freedom - physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially.

We believe love never fails.

We believe women walking in total freedom cause families and communities to flourish for generations to come.

We believe simple acts can be extraordinary.

We believe we will see more and more lives changed in the coming years.

This week we are unveiling a new initiative that we’re super excited about! Stay tuned here or be sure to get on our mailing list if you want to be the first to hear about it!

Also, we’d LOVE to hear about your experience with Free The Girls. Do you have a fun memory or story you’d like to share? Connect with us on facebook or instagram. We’d love to read and share!