30 + 30 and Why it Matters

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“…it’s what makes us able to extend the offer of empowerment to the women we serve and work with.”

30,000 bras.

That’s our End-of-Year-Giving goal this year. We’re focusing on what makes us tic, what makes us unique, what makes us able to extend the offer of empowerment to the women we serve and work with.

Our supporters, you all, have been remarkably and astoundingly generous with your finances this year. We have never seen such an outpouring of financial donations as we have in 2018, and the plans we have for the next three years because of this abundance - oh, friends, we can’t wait to share!

But the foundation of who we are remains bras. And since we are in a good place donation-wise this year, we want to extend the invitation to partner with us for Giving Tuesday and End-of-Year-Giving in collecting and donating bras.

If we reach our goal of 30,000 bras by Dec 31st, we will have secured the next two entire shipments to our overseas partners. That means over 30 businesses will have inventory. That’s 30 families. 30 women. 30 people whose lives yours has played a part in this holiday season. People just like Maria.

Her story is one of determination, inspiration, and HOPE.

So clean out the drawers!

Gather friends for your Christmas party and have a bra and a buck be the “cover charge”. Hang brassieres on a tree in your shop window. Be creative! Have fun! But be generous.

And while our goal is 30,000 bras and $30,000 - the other beautiful part is that if you and your community meet the 30+30 goal, you have more finances to give generously! You can spread the holiday cheer, pass on the gratitude and generosity to other causes and other nonprofits that you love and support. We want to cultivate a spirit of generosity and sacrificial giving amongst our supporters and all we come in contact with. So even if it’s not FTG, please give somewhere this year. As one of our brave women once told us to share with supporters;

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You can not get tired of giving,
because we’ve already shown you what we can do when you give.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We can’t wait to see all the bras come in from your efforts this year! Don’t forget to tag us on social media @freethegirlsbras so we can share your successes, too!


Call for Bras!

The holiday season is quickly coming upon us. For most of us, we begin planning for travel to see family, budgeting for gifts, decorating and baking and blaring Christmas music (some of us a little earlier than others!).

But for so many organizations, the holiday season means end-of-year-giving and ramping up for the most generous quarter of the year. Your inbox is about to be flooded with asks and requests, all worthy causes for incredible goals. We understand that, so we are going to try and make our goal and ask a little different this year, a bit more doable for those who want to give to multiple causes. What are we asking for?

Bras.

Bras are the very foundation upon which Free The Girls was built.

We believe (and have seen with our very eyes) that something simple, a donated bra, can be the very thing that changes the life of a sex trafficking survivor in a developing country.

That donated bra will provide her with inventory, inventory that’s part of her own small business selling bras while she gets healthy, receives job skills training, and other support. It’s not just a job - it’s a different future altogether.

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 Some of our favorite quotes from the women are:

“When I started selling bras, I changed my life.”

“When you give bras, you give life.”

 Our supporters have always given generously! Earlier this year we celebrated the milestone of one million bras collected! That’s over 80 women in 4 countries who have been able to take ownership of their finances and their choices because of those 1,000,000 bras.

Free The Girls has a vision for a hopeful future where trafficking is no longer a reality. But since that day isn’t here yet, so we are still (always!) in need of donated bras. We’ve been overwhelmed with the generosity of financial donations and fundraisers by our supporters this year. But with the increase of welcoming 10 new women into our program earlier this year, in order to meet our goals and provide each woman with the inventory she needs, we are in need of 30,000 bras before year’s end.

So that’s our holiday ask.

30 bras & 30 bucks from you.

If 1,000 of you sent in 30 bras and $30, we would hit our goal for our next two shipments. Last year, through a combination of donations through our website, Facebook fundraisers, and old fashioned checks and cash, you exceeded our giving goal of $20,000. We are confident you all can roll in the bras just like you did the funds!

So set up a Bra Tree like Little Man Ice Cream did last year, throw a holiday party where everyone brings a bra along with their bottle of wine or dessert like Teresa Anderson did for a holiday party, have your church collect bras next to their canned food drive for Thanksgiving, or whatever else you can think of. You all continue to amaze and amuse us with all the ways you get bra drives done!

If you’d like to donate or collect bras here are some ways to get started:

*Go through your lingerie drawer and see what you aren’t wearing, what no longer fits, or what never fit right in the first place and send them to us or find a drop-off near you!

* Do a bra drive! We offer great resources here.

* Commit to having your place of business, store, school, club, or other public location become an official Free The Girls drop-off location. See how here!

*New inventory. We are always open to exploring new partnerships with those in the lingerie industry who might have new inventory to donate. Send us an email at inventory@freethegirls.org

Once you get ready to mail those bras and bucks, let us know by completing our online donation form, found here: Bra Donation Form (It looks like a strange form, but we promise you, all your information is safe and secure!)

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When Free The Girls first began our vision was small. Small as in, “Let’s bring a couple hundred bras in a suitcase to Mozambique to help trafficking survivors” small. We have been exceedingly and abundantly blessed since then to have our vision increased. We are currently supporting programs in Mozambique, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, and we ship inventory to each of them at least once a year.

Our women continue to amaze us with what they can do when we are able to equip them with what they need to be able to start their own micro enterprise.

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We can’t wait to see how you show your support over the next two months! We thank you in advance for your generosity and all those unmentionables!

 

 

7 New Businesses

7 New Businesses!!!


Last week was a week of celebration.  After 3 long years of emails, phone calls, Skype dates, tears and prayers, the Bra Selling Program in Costa Rica officially began with seven women starting their businesses last week.

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The learning curve for selling bras can be tricky for some, but every woman has sold some of her inventory and one woman had almost sold her entire first bag of bras by Wednesday!!!  These women know how to hustle!  They had already completed 6 weeks of job skills training, and when they arrived on Monday to receive the bras, we heard they were so very excited!  

These words from our Program Partners back in February keep replaying in our minds:

"We have known so many women who were tricked into a life of prostitution and sex slavery, that financially see no way out of their current situations. The ability to provide stability, training, family and most of all HOPE to such a deeply wounded population is something we’ve been waiting for and hoping for for YEARS and will make a HUGE impact on the landscape of freedom for these women."

Thank you to all who helped make this possible!!! There are 7 new businesses out in the world because of you. 7 women who are taking to the streets to sell bras, not their bodies. 7 families beginning the long journey towards true freedom. 

This is why we do what we do.


If this inspires you, check out some of the ways you can get involved!



1 Million Bras!

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A million bras!

1,000,000! I mean what does a million even look like? A million miles is about 2 round trips back and forth from here to the moon! So we celebrate the amazing over the moon fact that you, our faithful donors, have made it possible for us to collect over a million bras!

In the beginning, our bra collecting was done in Denver by FTG co-founder Kimba Langas. Bras were stored in places like her basement and garage, and later at a storage shed, a friend’s garage, and a charity who loaned us extra storage space.  By the end of 2012, we officially moved the Bra Collection Site to Duneland Community Church in Chesterton, Indiana. At first we counted every bra, stacking them in piles of 10 as we packed them in boxes. But it quickly became clear that continuing to do that would be neither practical nor efficient. So we began to weigh the finished boxes of bras and use “bra math” to determine the number of bras we had collected. “Bra math” is one of my favorite parts of my job and involves figuring out how things how many bras fit in a box, how many bras we receive each month, and how many more we need to collect to be able to ship to one of our program locations.

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Fun FTG bra math facts:

1,080,000 approximate number of bras collected to date by free The Girls

200= the average number of bras that fit in a FTG box

693 = number of boxes shipped to Mozambique in 2018

180 = number of boxes shipped to El Salvador in 2018

40 = number of boxes shipped to Costa Rica in 2018

30= average number of volunteers helping at each “packing party” to process, sort, and pack boxes

To be honest though, the most important bra math number is “1.” And that’s you! I am consistently humbled and amazed by the generosity of our bra donors. I am touched by the sweet woman from Studio City, California who mails us one bra each month. I love that the Rigby and Peller at 90th and Madison in NYC encloses a “good luck” note with every single box they mail. And my heart smiles every time we open a package and find “bucks” to go with the bras. We couldn’t do what we do without each of you and our fabulous drop-off locations including all of the Title Nine and Rigby and Peller locations.

And what we have been able to do with these bras has been nothing short of life-changing for the women in our programs. These bras, your one million donated bras, have provided economic empowerment for women who have been able to exit the sex trafficking industry by selling them. And I think of the words of Fatima, one of the graduates of our Mozambique program. “When you give bras, you give life. We are able to do so many things because of what you give. And so you can’t get tired of giving because of what we have already demonstrated we can do when you give…it’s really good.”

Here’s a peak at some of those million bras over the years. We stand in awe and gratitude.

On behalf of Free The Girls - Thank you! Obrigado! Gracias! Here’s to one million more!

-Pam Gumns, Bra Math Extraordinare

Celebrating Leonor!

Free The Girls was incredibly honored to be the 2018 recipient of Somebody's Mama grant.  This amazing group of mamas fundraised for our Inheritance Project in Mozambique, raising over $8,300 and collecting more than 400 bras for our ladies in Maputo!  Not only did they raise bras and bucks, they also highlighted two of our own for their Mom of the Month blog, our Creative Director Abby Mortenson as well as our Mozambique Program Manager, Leonor! 

We encourage you to check out Somebody's Mama and all the work they do around the globe for women and children.  

Blog originally published here on Aug 29, 2018.


Mama of the Month: Leonor

Our community recently funded a grant for Free The Girls, an organization that supports women who have been rescued from trafficking. Their goal is for the women in their program to experience TRUE FREEDOM both through safe economic opportunities and holistic reintegration into the community. Our grant will help eight women receive what they need to build homes, buy land, or attend university through The Inheritance Project.

 Leonor on the right with a program participant

Leonor on the right with a program participant

What does that look like in practice? Our newest Mama of the Month is at the forefront of empowering women in Mozambique. Every great program has, at its core, a passionate person. Leonor is that person for Free The Girls. After her husband left her and her daughter, Leonor had the resolve to change her life and the lives of her family members. She says,

“I returned to school years after I had abandoned my studies, and I went to Bible school as well. Now I am a leader in my church, teaching and preaching during the service and in Sunday School. It was hard when I first went back to school. There were times during the week when I wasn’t able to see my daughter. I would get home after she went to bed, and I would leave before she woke up in the morning. I depended on my sister to help me to be a parent to her. It was a sacrifice. However, now I am able to help my sister and her son return to school and I am able to provide for our whole household.”

As the Country Director for Free The Girls, Leonor is instrumental in helping women work through the program.

“Before working for FTG, I met some of the women who would be in the program. I saw how much they had suffered and I wanted to help. I love working with the women—helping them to have dignity and justice and to be whole again.”

Leonor oversees the program, caring for the women, helping them set up their businesses and save money, and training them in business practices and personal finance. To better help the women in her program, Leonor has returned to college to study psychology. The women she works with need significant help, and her studies will equip her to help them more deeply. Many of the women are difficult to work with and have negative attitudes. Leonor says,

“Although life on the streets is hard, many choose to go back. It is so difficult when a woman will not change—when a woman returns to the streets. When she chooses drugs and/or alcohol instead of freedom, it breaks my heart. Studying psychology has helped me to see patterns and to persevere with many of the women who struggle. ”

For the women who stay in the program, Leonor provides inspiration, and the effort is worth it.

“Since I enrolled in university. The women in the program respect me for my choice and are inspired by my example. When I see a life change, it makes all the difference. I love to see when a woman is able to help not only herself and her children, but to help her entire family. I love to see a woman’s business flourish.
We are about freedom. We want women to be free. We want them to be free to own a business. We want them to be free to return to school. We want their family to be free.”
 Leonor with her daughter, sister, and nephew

Leonor with her daughter, sister, and nephew

Our model promotes true development, and the work Leonor does at Free The Girls is not a band-aid for the problems our friends in Mozambique are facing—this is ideas turned into action and finding real, tangible solutions that will empower the entire community.

What an honor it is that we get to be a part of the healing through our gifts. Our board of directors searches for projects where our little bits of good create lasting impact around the world. We would love for you to join us in making this possible.


From all of us at FTG, thank you Somebody's Mama!  

And thank you Leonor for all you do for our women!