Freedom Affects It All

Trafficking affects all areas of a person’s life - physical, emotional, mental, psychological, familial, even faith in many cases.

But so does freedom.

It is incredible to have a front row seat to watch the women in our program change their lives.  To witness women go from unsure to confident, anger to joy, oppressed to empowered is our greatest pleasure.  Nearly every weekly staff meeting has some update on a woman, and the four of us smile and laugh and clap with glee at the absolute honor to serve these brave women as they boldly walk the path to freedom.

And then there are the stories of the women who have reached true freedom.  These are the stories that humble us as we sit in the weight of what those women have accomplished and achieved.  These are the women who have not only been able to sustain themselves but take care of family members, women who have not just changed their own life but the trajectory of their entire families’ lives, women who have not simply gathered self-confidence in their bra businesses but confidently own their place in the world.

UG road-2.jpg

Meet J.

When J was just 15 years old, she met a handsome, older European man in a nightclub where she and some friends hung out.  This initial meeting slowly turned into a relationship as this man showered J with gifts and compliments making her feel like an adult, beautiful and special.  He told her he had to return to his home country in Europe but asked her to come with him. He promised her a beautiful house, an extravagant lifestyle, and, above all, his love.  He was so intelligent and wealthy and suave and he adored her - she was swept off her feet and she agreed.  He helped her apply for and get her passport and visa.  I can only imagine the excitement J must have felt boarding an airplane for the first time to move to a land she never thought she’d visit with the man of her dreams.

But you know the story.  There is no need to go into everything that happened to her at the hands of the man who told her he loved her.  The man who would never be her husband but had become her trafficker, her pimp.

After enduring several months of this horror, she saw an opportunity to run away, and she took it!  She grabbed her passport and fled, not knowing where she was going or where she would stay but knowing all too well that anything would be better than that.  

As often happens, the trafficker had threatened her with the authorities.  “You had sex for money!  That’s breaking the law, and the police would throw you into prison!  You have nowhere to turn.  You’re a criminal.”  J, a 15 year old girl in a foreign country who had just lived through incredibly traumatic experiences at the hand of the man she thought loved her, believed all of this and was fearful.  She couldn’t go to the police.  She couldn’t go the embassy.  Where could she go?  She made friends with women in similar situations who had taken to working the streets, and she entered into street-based prostitution.  Eventually, she made enough money for a return ticket and flew back to Mozambique.

But, as is sadly the case with so many women, she returned to a family who shunned her.  Embarrassed and ashamed of her, they refused to allow her to be a member of their family.  Even when they found out she was pregnant.

Trafficking affects all areas of a person’s life - physical, emotional, mental, psychological, familial, even faith in many cases.

Church.jpg

But so does freedom.

Four years after she boarded that plane that changed her life, J heard about FTG and received her first batch of inventory in December of 2012.  Not only did this allow her to be able to call the shots in her own life, to become an entrepreneur, to have choices and options for the first time in a long time - it gave her confidence.  It allowed her to dream.  It reminded her that her past need not dictate or determine her future.

Four months after she joined FTG and began changing her life, J worked up the courage to apply for a position in a local restaurant.  She purchased a professional outfit, nailed her interview, and became a waitress alongside managing her own bra business.  

And now four years after she took that courageous step and changed her story, J has saved enough money through her two jobs to not only care for her 3 year old son but also her grandparents and to also return to school to continue to better her life.  At 23 years of age, she is currently in the 11th grade and is on track to graduate with her diploma next year.

GRADUACAO DAS PRINCESAS (29)-2.jpg

FTG gets the privilege of watching the women in our program on their journey - from the first 100 bras they are given to begin their business to enrolling in job skills training to graduating to all that comes after.  FTG might be a two year program - a drop in the bucket in the course of a lifetime - but the ripples that come from that drop extend far and wide.

Freedom affects all areas of a person’s life - physical, emotional, mental, psychological, familial, even faith in many cases.

IMG_7193.PNG