This One Is For All The Women Out There...

This one is for all the women out there.

 

We try to stress that sex trafficking is not a “women’s issue” but, rather, a human rights issue, that we need the men and boys to stand up and show up for the millions of women and girls (and, yes, men and boys too) that have found themselves caught in the snares of trafficking.

 

But today, I want to gather the women close.  Let’s share a cup of tea together and be real for a minute.  Let’s tear down the distinctions that we sometimes believe separate us: working versus stay-at-home mama, single versus married versus divorced, teenager versus wiser and older, or whatever other “us versus them” categories that are thrown at us.  Let’s just be women for a moment – powerful, encouraging, inclusive, loving, and celebratory.

 

There is so much more that unites us than divides us.

And this truth spans cultures and continents and countries.

 

I have had several conversations in the past couple weeks in which I have been talking about the women in our program and the other person says, “Wow.  I get it.  I understand.”  Not what it’s like to be trafficked, not what it’s like to be forced into commercial sex (though, sadly, some of you do know this), but what it’s like to feel powerless, to have dreams that seem unattainable, to desperately want to be independent and provide safety for your children, to crave being loved and accepted and not shamed for your past mistakes.

 

Let’s open the little community we have right now in this blog post to include Jasmine, Angel, and Fatima.  We’ve spoken about Jasmine and her creativity to provide for her children even while battling cancer – and we were reminded of all the creative ways we care for our own families.  We’ve rejoiced with Angel as she found her confidence to state, “I am a businesswoman” and we remembered that one time when we realized we could actually achieve our dream and felt on top of the world.  We’ve looked at photos of Fatima’s house that she built – and we looked around our own homes that we’ve deliberately and gently decorated and made ours.

 

Let’s hear a little more from Fatima, trafficked when she was just 12 years old.  Let’s invite her to tell a bit of her story.

 

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"Ladies and gentlemen, please be welcome to my humble house.  I am Fatima, and I receive you with all of my sincerity.

I won’t tell my whole story because it is very long.

My history is this: I, Fatima, was a big b***h when I was a prostitute because I didn’t know what I was doing.  I got money [from working the streets], and I didn’t know what to do with it.  I smoked cigarettes, drank, bought clothes, and cut short my own life.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know what were the good things in my life.

I went to my mother’s funeral as a young girl – she died giving birth to my sister.  I lost my father and my brother in the same year.  And I was left with my three younger siblings.  I’m the oldest.  I [was forced] to prostitute in order to provide for my siblings. 

Eventually, I met this man and lived with him.  We had two children together, but it was bad.  I had to sustain myself by continuing to be a prostitute.  But I stopped drinking and smoking.  My husband didn’t want me to be a prostitute, but he wouldn’t give me money {for rent or to feed my children].

I thought the only solution was to continue with this life of prostitution.  One day, this man beat me, and I ran away.  I couldn’t do anything. 

By the grace of God, I began attending a church.  I found Free The Girls, and I began to sell.  Today, I have bought my land for 50,000 meticals (about $1000USD).  I have bought cement blocks, a roof, and my children are going to school.  Everything is by the grace of God and this project.

I love the project of bras.

I love Leonor (our program manager)

I love Mr. Dave (our co-founder)

And I love the direction of the bra project.

 

The project has shown me the life.

 

I am a person who, before was forgiven, but now has a perfect family.

You are welcome in my house."

 

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What an extraordinarily brave and strong woman, to invite us into her confidence and to allow herself to be known even the tiniest bit.  The vulnerability it takes to share a story like this is offset by the confident smile she wears.

 

Have you ever had the honor and privilege to walk alongside someone who just radiated freedom and light and joy?  Free calls to free and invites all around her to also walk in freedom.  As one staff member stated recently,

“At Free The Girls, the honor to restore and celebrate women in freedom reminds us every single day of the indescribable power love has to see humans fully restored.  It’s that love and bold belief in freedom that keeps us eternally optimistic and determined to work towards True Freedom.”

 

This is why we do what we do. 

 

Because our sister Fatima now states proudly that she has a perfect family.  Because earlier this morning I saw a woman in our Uganda program state on Facebook: “I am no longer a slave to fear.” 

Because I spoke with a woman from Wisconsin on the phone yesterday who said that she considers herself a FTG ambassador because she loves partnering with women in the global sisterhood a world away.

 

I invite you to delve a little deeper within the Free The Girls family and become a monthly partner.  For $7 a week (just $28 a month), help lift up our sisters like Fatima and Angel and Jasmine. The same day Fatima wrote that letter was the same day she told me to tell all of you, “You can’t get tired of giving, because we’ve already shown you what we can do when you give.”

We need you to partner with us in this little community that is expanding ever-wider, to continue to lift these incredible women up as they become strong businesswomen, compassionate leaders in their community, and fierce mamas.

I believe in community and transparency.  So if you have any questions or ideas or just want to chat, email me or call me up!  Truly, I’d love to connect deeper with you!  My cell phone number is 615.999.9093 and my email is courtney@freethegirls.org.  I would absolutely love for you to join our monthly program and to keep this women-helping-women community going.  Will you join those who have already committed? 

Because what could be better than showing our daughters, our sisters, our neighbors, how we women can unite and make a deep and undeniable impact across the globe.

Sincerely, 
Courtney Skiera-Vaughn, Director of Free The Girls