“Nothing beats watching a trafficking survivor transform from a former slave to a budding entrepreneur. Giving someone a job is noble. Giving them the opportunity to create their own job is more so.”
~Dave Terpstra, Free The Girls Co-Founder and Global Director
On the first Monday in September, every year, the US celebrates Labor Day. Labor Day began as a celebration of the working class and their contribution to our country and its economy. Today we not only celebrate the contributions of the workers, but also the change our country underwent in the drive to have safer working environments and more ethical treatment of workers.
Here at Free The Girls, our goal is economic empowerment of women who are survivors of sexual slavery. We strive to help women train for and begin work that can support them and their families. We want to help them make enough money to keep them from needing to go back to their old lives. Independence and long term ability to continue working is extremely important in this endeavor, as is safety and better working conditions.
In the spirit of Labor Day we want to take a minute to be thankful for all that we have in our lives, for the job security we have as well as the good working conditions we enjoy, and to remember that not everyone has what we have. We want to reaffirm our commitment to provide safer, more ethical, work for the women in our programs.
Danielle Snyder, the Program Director for one of our partner programs, Mission to El Salvador, told us what helping women become economically independent means to her:
“Getting a job can prove to be a difficult task for women and girls in El Salvador. Those who have been victims of sex-trafficking face many more obstacles. Often, they don’t have any education past the 2nd or 3rd grade and they haven’t had the opportunity to learn a trade that can provide them with a sustainable income. Many times they also have children as a result of being trafficked and they struggle to feed them. Reintegrating into the work force is a crucial step for these women. A job can mean the difference between life and death. A survivor without a reliable source of income will often make the choice to prostitute herself on the streets because it is all she knows. Selling bras with Free The Girls gives her real, profitable, and completely sustainable employment. Not only do these women get the cash they need, they also earn sales experience and gain a sense of dignity and self-worth. All of these things are crucial stepping stones for a woman to enter the workforce with confidence and experience, and to make a future for herself that is not defined by her past.”
We are so blessed to have the lives we do and we are so blessed to also be able to help those who haven’t had our opportunities. Thanks to our aftercare program partners, and to all who donate to our cause, we are able to help women find a better life and more, through their new professions.
That is a wonderful reason to celebrate Labor Day.