Redefining Freedom

 

We hope you had a lovely Independence Day!

Obviously, we at Free The Girls are all about freedom.  We believe it’s a key component of living life to its fullest.  We fight for freedom, we celebrate freedom, and lately we’ve been on this mission of redefining freedom.

Our co-founders began this organization asking “what are we rescuing women to?”  Our partners on the ground understand that the journey to full freedom means more than simply being away from exploitation.

I’ve been curious as to what “freedom” means to different people – so I’ve been asking!  I asked the women in our program in Uganda and Mozambique when I visited this past spring.  I questioned Danielle, our partner in El Salvador, as to what she sees as freedom for the women there.  I’ve emailed high school students who have done bra drives for us.  I’ve dug into this definition with our staff.  I discussed the meaning with other non-profit leaders fighting for freedom.  I’ve posed the question on social media.  And I have loved the answers!

– “To me, freedom means to be able to do the right things, to not do the wrong things, to not depend on a man or depend on anyone else.  But to be able to do things for myself by myself.  It means independence.” – Sarah, from our Mozambique program, preparing to graduate in December

– “Someone walking beside me so I can become a better person.” – Carol, a woman in our program from Uganda who has been with us for one year

– “Peace.  Danger was the way from before.  Now I’m open and free.” –Fatima, a woman in our Mozambique program

-“One of the most amazing things we can give oppressed and impoverished people isn’t charity, it’s a job.  To me, freedom is the opportunity to work.  That’s the heart behind Fair Trade Friday.”  – Kristen Welch, author of Rhinestone JesusRaising Grateful Kids in an Entitled Worldblogger, creator of Fair Trade Friday.

– “When I think of freedom, I think of safety.  To be free is to be comfortable in your own expressions and actions without fear of harm or prejudice.” – Student who ran one of our most successful high school bra drives

-“Freedom to me means opportunity and possibility.” – Paige Davis, television personality, actress, honorary chair for BRAlapalooza 2016

– “For the women in our program here, it’s their ability to make their own choice – to choose what to wear, where to go, what to eat, where their children go to school.” – Danielle Snyder, our program partner in El Salvador and co-founder of Mission to El Salvador

-“Freedom is to me – the absence of chains.  It is about what is no longer – the things that fall away – to free us to become what we are meant to be.  Freedom means possibility.” – Brandi Lea, founder and executive director of Beauty For Ashes Uganda

–“Being free, I think, is not being intimidated.  Just being yourself.  No one is driving you, but you are driving yourself.” – Stella, a woman selling bras from Uganda for two years

-“Freedom is being honest with my sacred doubts, with my gigantic never-fulfilled needs, with my confessional spill and being accepted; freedom is routine, civility among neighbors, friends and colleagues.  In this way, freedom is sanctuary and what flows from this is inclusion, healing and justice.” – Mary Ellen Mann, co-founder of LastBattle.org, author of From Pain to Power, psychotherapist, and honorary chair for BRAlapalooza 2016

-“Freedom – to me – means being able to pursue and explore open options across all aspects of life without being oppressed!” – Gordon H., an Everyday Abolitionist

– “Free means living a life when you’re not enslaved, not being a servant, but being of yourself and doing what is right.” – Doreen Victory, selling bras in Uganda for 4 months

-“It is important to understand our freedoms and use them to help people with less freedom than us.” – Student, helped organize her Spanish class to raise bras and bucks for El Salvador

-“Freedom is found in love and forgiveness.  Without them, our souls live in bondage.” – Amber Newberry, owner of Beautiful & Beloved, a boutique carrying stunning items from the global market made by survivors of trafficking, a movement to empower and inspire, and a FTG drop-off location

-“Freedom, to me, means having the ability to act on my choices and dreams.” – Beverly W.H., a Free The Girls supporter and Everyday Abolitionist

-“Freedom is being released from every form of captivity – mental ,spiritual, emotional, and physical – in order to live life fully unencumbered.  It is reveling in the freedom from bondage, and in the freedom to live the life God created, a life that honors and delights in Him.” – Jenny Ray Smith, world-changer, homeschool mom, and yoga instructor looking for God’s next step in her life

-“Freedom begins the moment she takes that first step of faith in believing who she is, who she was made to be, then choosing to live with the mantle of Grace over her instead of the debilitating label of Shame.” – Michelle Kristen, founder of Restore Innocence and Freedom & Grace, a boutique filled with beautiful items crafted by survivors of human trafficking here in the U.S.

How incredible are each of these quotes?  Take a moment to recognize that you are a member of this family, of this group of people working for freedom and justice.  And we’d love to hear from you – how you define freedom, how you’ve seen freedom walked out and embraced, and how you fight for freedom in your everyday life.

So honored to be going on this journey with all of you,

Courtney