human trafficking awareness

Celebrating Freedom, Looking Toward Hope

I recently sent out an email to all of our staff which said, “Next week is 4th of July- Freedom, independence – it’s kind of our FTG jam, right?” And it is!

IMG_5024.PNG

We love freedom - true freedom. We love independence, defined by one of the women who has since graduated as, “Not having to rely on anyone but being able to do stuff for myself by myself.”

Sadly, this birthright, this basic human right, is denied to so many individuals around the world. There’s a reason human trafficking is often referred to as modern-day slavery, and this just isn’t ok. It has never been ok. We believe that each and every person bears the Imago Dei, the image of God, and that every individual on the planet throughout history has been created with inherent worth and dignity and belovedness which is in direct opposition to someone being “owned” by another, existing for another’s profit.

This is why FTG exists – to see women being given opportunities that already should have been afforded them, seeing them lean into the independence and freedom that is theirs by birthright. We get the incredible opportunity to stand and watch total restoration completely transform the women in our program. We get just plain giddy when we are able to invite our friends, our family, and total strangers into being a part of this redemption process whether that’s through donating bras, holding bras drives and fundraisers for us through Facebook or online, supporting businesses that become drop-offs or donate their own inventory, and sharing about us. We get to do this together, and it’s my favorite.

But just like all stories of true freedom, this is a hard-fought battle. Celebrating independence invariably comes after a period of heart-breaking struggle and war. You can’t commemorate freedom and independence if you haven’t lived the opposite side of that coin – oppression, enslavement, uphill battles, bullying, yes, even taxation without representation. And the reality is, not all battles for freedom are won. This is the tension that we at FTG live with daily and, I imagine, you do in your personal life as well. This never-ending struggle can be overwhelming at times, depressing and even crushing.

465B7877 (1).jpg

But we carry on

bravely and boldly.

I recently read these beautiful words from Catherine McNiel, the author of a striking new book called All Shall Be Well, and it nearly took my breath away:

“But do not mistake hope for safety. Hope breaks us open. Hope is never naïve to suffering, is synonymous not with optimism but with courage. Hope knows with certainty that life overflows with both beauty and pain, and we cannot know which will rise to meet us. Trembling with possibility, hope sidles up boldly to despair, nestles close, and puts down roots. These two – hope and despair – stand always side by side, each determined to outlast the other. If we choose hope, we must join the standoff, with hearts and hands wide open, fighting the urge to fade into despair.”

And so we continue on in hope – not pithy hope that isn’t worth its weight – but deep, heavy, stuff-with-substance hope.

Like we shared a few posts back, WE WILL BE THE HOPEFUL.

We hope for a future where all are truly free. We hope to assist women in breaking generational poverty, ensuring their children and their children’s children are not at risk of similar exploitation. We hope to see literal and metaphorical chains breaking, allowing and calling forth independence that’s made to celebrate.

So this 4th of July, this Independence Day, light those sparklers, eat that watermelon, laugh with friends and family and truly appreciate the freedom of this country that was hoped and fought for a few hundred years ago. And as you watch fireworks light up the sky, remember that “it is for freedom that you have been set free” – and dare to hope that you’ll see that reality in your lifetime, and then take that step in hope towards living out your freedom in a way that helps others become free as well.

For True Freedom,

Courtney Skiera-Vaughn and the FTG Family

465B0618-2.jpg

p.s. This is not a sponsored post - we just love Catherine’s book!

p.p.s. If you’re looking for a fun and tangible way to support the brave women in our programs, we have a new club and we’d love you to join! The Underwire Club is a group of dedicated and passionate partners who give just $7/week ($28/month) in order to bring true freedom to women, communities, and generations to come.

Human Trafficking Awareness : What you CAN do.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and for some of us the truth of this issue may be common knowledge. To others, even today, the reality of human trafficking still comes as a shock. 

Regardless of our familiarity with the issue, to be confronted with the statistics is overwhelming to all of us: 

40.3 million people living in slavery today**.

29+ million of those being women and girls. 

403,000 people in the US alone.

The average age of entry into forced prostitution worldwide is under 17 years old.

The complex trauma related to human trafficking and exploitation is very difficult to overcome.

humantraffickingfreethegirls

These daunting facts can stun us and keep us complacent, static, or frozen- too overwhelmed to do anything. We may ask, “How can I impact such a BIG problem? Is it even possible?”

The truth is WE CAN make a difference. 

YOUR VOICE MATTERS. 

Your actions matter, and your choices matter. 

This is really good news in the face of one of the most horrible realities in human history.

We at Free The Girls love the fact that we get to invite you into the work of supporting survivors of human trafficking in real, tangible ways. With our unique model, we are seeing women regain independence, empowerment, and hope. 

In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we’d like to invite you to join our Export Freedom Project. As we’re getting ready to send a huge shipment of bras to the continent of Africa, you can join in and follow the boxes of inventory - from our warehouse in Indiana, across the ocean into the hands of survivors in Mozambique! There are many steps in the process of getting your donated bras into the hands of women. Once they receive them, each woman will sustain her business with those bras! 

And the most beautiful part? 

freethegirls

Not only is she creating a business, she’s creating a life - a life of freedom and hope. 

As we think about the journey of a bra… we can’t help but think about the journey of survivors of sex trafficking. It’s a journey from horrific trauma and oppression to reintegrating into the life they were meant to live - within their own family and community. The dividends of your impact are realized not only in women victoriously leading and providing for themselves, but also for generations to come. 

Through holistic reintegration programming and the economic opportunity to earn a safe income- we’re seeing survivors free to be restored to who they were designed to be- 

WHOLE,
WORTHY,
POWERFULLY FREE.

In order to join our Export Freedom Project, we’re inviting you to create your own Facebook fundraiser* for Free The Girls and invite your community to join in. We’re asking each person to set a goal of $200 -and when you reach your goal of $200, you’ll be added to our insider group of Export Freedom Partners! In this private Facebook group, you’ll be getting exclusive updates, photos, and information about our Mozambique program and the women in it. 

freethegirlsexportfreedom

By joining the Export Freedom Project, you can literally SEE your impact. And not only will you be inspired by the difference your impact can make, but you’ll be able to share the inspiration and impact with your friends and family who have joined you in your fundraiser. 

This opportunity is an exciting way to move from paralysis or being slightly engaged in this issue to making a tangible impact and to SEE results. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

*If you don’t have Facebook, don’t worry! You can still join in! Here’s another way you can participate. Once you start your fundraiser, just send us an email and us know you want to join EXPORT FREEDOM!

THANK YOU.

Thank you for taking a stand. Thank you for caring.

Thank you for choosing to make a mark on this issue of human trafficking.

IT MATTERS.

**https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang--en/index.htm