For the last year, we have been having very intentional conversations with the women in our program; we have been listening as they have told us their stories. Their words are, simultaneously, difficult to hear and beautiful within the framework in which they are telling their histories.
You’ve probably seen our 2015 Impact Report which showcases so much of the success that the women in our program have achieved – milestones like sending their children to school, purchasing land, and even enrolling in university! (One girl in Uganda begins university this month!) I have been excited to write a blog post and share some amazing quotes that these women have said about our program and about Free The Girls. But when reviewing the transcriptions of the interviews, something surprised us – Free The Girls was hardly ever mentioned.
I wanted to share incredible, poignant quotes on how awesome Free The Girls is – but I can’t. I wanted to share testimonies of how Free The Girls has changed the lives of the women we serve – but I can’t. I wanted you to see how the women are in love with Free The Girls – but I can’t.
But what I can give you are some incredible, poignant quotes on how the women perceive their success – because they do not credit Free The Girls with their journey to freedom, they credit themselves.
“When I started selling bras, I changed my life.”
“I didn’t know what was next. But I [started] my business and started selling bras.”
“I’m working and I’m growing.”
“Nobody could change my life. I needed to take the first steps.”
Not FTG changed her life. Not FTG gave her a business. Not FTG helped her change her life. These are all personal pronouns.
We have not given these women a gift of a program – we have given them the opportunity to empower themselves. When we invite women into Free The Girls, we make it very clear from the onset that they do not work for FTG, that they do not work for our program partners – they work for themselves – they are entrepreneurs – they are businesswomen. And this theme has stuck! They have taken full responsibility of their journey to freedom and have claimed ownership of their success and their failures. They are not using FTG as a crutch nor are they dependent upon us. They are utilizing and capitalizing on an opportunity set before them.
And they are passing this message on! Each lady was asked what she would say to other women with similar backgrounds, women who were no longer being held by a trafficker but perhaps still working in prostitution or still struggling to get by.
“You can not change the past but you change your future.”
“You need to be a leader and lead your life out of there.”
“It’s your time now to work on your future to be a bright future, to have a better future.”
“Freedom means not having to rely on anyone but relying on yourself.”
Each woman recognizes Free The Girls has had an impact on her life, but she sees the woman in the mirror as the one who changed her life.
Your monetary gifts give us the opportunity to be a catalyst for wholeness by inviting more women into this journey of true freedom. Help us invite more women to take control back of their lives and to equip them to own their personal success, to own their personal restoration, to own their personal freedom. And after all, aren’t all anti-trafficking efforts working towards giving the power back into the hands of the survivors? We do not change their lives – they change their lives. And you can help equip them to do so. Please consider making an impact in an instant and click here to donate right now.