Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  I do hope your holidays were filled with joy and light and surrounded by loved ones.  Our Board of Directors gives the staff a generous two week holiday break that is always much needed, so now we are back and ready to hit 2018!!!

Even though Free The Girls is our day-job, it’s so much more than that for our little staff of 4.  Our program partners are deep friends and we are so invested in the women and their families, so receiving texts in broken English from our Program Managers fills us with delight, and voice memos and videos and texts from the women in our program just make our day – even when we are “supposed to be” unplugged.  Though we were technically on vacation, we were still in communication with our FTG family around the world.

Danielle (our program partner with Mission to El Salvador) sent us a photo of the El Salvadoran Christmas party.  Due to safety concerns, we won’t’ be publishing that photo, but the women and their children are standing, arms around each other, in front of a table filled with gifts, chocolates, and poinsettias.  A young girl, probably 8 or 9 years old, is standing in front of Danielle and Evelyn (our Program Manager), fiercely hugging a blue teddy bear and smiling side-eyed at the camera.  It’s a darling photo, and Danielle said it was a great time!

The day after Christmas I received a video message of three of our Ugandan women wishing us a merry Christmas and then breaking into Jingle Bells and dancing around the home laughing and shouting.  My husband and I had taught the Ugandan women a variety of Christmas carols when we lived there and even took them caroling one time (a practice not observed in Uganda, and one they thought was ridiculous and hysterical), so they wanted to Christmas carol across the ocean to us.  Oh, it made me grin. (Take a listen below!)

But there were difficult times as well.  Dave Terpstra called me the week before Christmas telling me about one of the Mozambique women.  While she and her children were running errands, her home burned down.  According to Dave, the fire destroyed everything – bed, all her documents, every morsel of food in her cupboards, clothing (presumably including her inventory of bras).  Thankfully, none of the family members were injured as they were away from the house at the time of the fire.  But Dave said, “Everything was completely devastated....  So, of course, we jumped into action.” 

FTG was able to give her enough cash for essentials for her and her children as well as extra boxes of clothing and bras to sell. 

The bed - no more mattress - with singed, unwearable shoes on top.

The bed - no more mattress - with singed, unwearable shoes on top.

But there is a hopeful glint to this story.  Apparently, she had been wanting to begin building a brick house for her family – and so now her neighbors are coming alongside her to help her achieve that dream. 

She’s looking at this tragedy as an opportunity to get the house she always wanted! 

We will continue to be giving her extra boxes of bras to sell for the next few months as she works on rebuilding her life, and perhaps she will be one of 2018’s Inheritance Project recipients as she continues working on her new brick home!

The outline of her new brick house with the help of her nieghbors.

The outline of her new brick house with the help of her nieghbors.

We are only able to help in these times of crises because of your support throughout the year.  We sent our first shipment of the year this week.  In the last few weeks, an entire shipping container has been boxed up, fumigated, loaded onto a cargo ship, and has left New York headed for Maputo, Mozambique!

For those who have sent us bras in the last several months, that’s where your bras are headed.  For those who have sent in financial donations, your gift is helping those bras get to Mozambique into the hands of this woman working to rebuild her life yet again, along with the other women in our program.

And friends, guess what?  That end-of-year campaign we spoke so much about – that $20,000 goal of ours – that large figure (for us!) that would allow us to invite 10 new women into our Mozambique program? 

You did it!

You not only did it, you crushed it.

You all DOUBLED what our goal was!

Free The Girls has never brought in that much money in a single month before.  If I’m being honest, there was dancing, gasps, screams, and maybe a few tears when our staff saw those numbers.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. 

Thank you for being the people you are, the generous people who are dedicated to justice and freedom, the people who are not content to sit idly by while millions of people are denied the simple choices we often take for granted, the people who donate their bras and bucks, the people who are stepping up around the world to be Everyday Abolitionists.

Thank you.

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So those bras that are headed over to Mozambique – those will be the very first bras placed into the hands of these women, their first batch of inventory for their own business as they become entrepreneurs.  We can’t wait to meet the new women.  We can’t wait to introduce them to you. 

We’ve a feeling 2018 is going to be pretty spectacular.

- Courtney