Use Your Power to Empower

I’ve been thinking. Thinking about what it means to chase justice, to find freedom, to use my power, to name my truths, to raise my voice.

I recently attended the Women’s Empowerment #JusticeInstitute in Chicago. It was a day spent listening and learning from those who speak the language of justice. And friends, justice is a powerful language.

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JUSTICE IS A POWERFUL LANGUAGE

Wheaton Sociology professor, Amy Reynolds, shared about sexual terrorism and the ways that fear impacts our behaviors. Pastor Kim Whetstone encouraged us to embrace empowerment and move beyond anxious leadership. Author Kathy Khang, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “use your power to empower” discussed what it means to raise your voice and asked “how can we lift someone up when we think it’s a competition?” The speakers that day so beautifully wove together their personal stories, their work and their research, leaving me with a fresh resolve to be more purposeful in using my own voice. When my now-grown sons were young they sometimes used tears and gestures as they struggled to say what was wrong, and I had to tell them “use your words.”


Our language has power and we use our hashtags to abbreviate in clever ways. But our hashtags also tell a story and give us a place to come back to, a place we can find again if we search, as well as a place for others to find us. At #freethegirls we are #eternallyoptimistic and #everydayabolitionists who envision a world where all are free. #chasingjustice – is something we do at FTG, but we hope that we do it in a way that invites others in, because it’s not a competition.

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While today I’m still pondering the ways that I am supposed to use my power to empower, one thing seems very clear to me. I want you know that you are invited to join in this important work, that’s why we started The Underwire Club. It’s a $28 per month investment in the real and important work of chasing justice by fighting human trafficking.

I’ve read and heard a lot of fundraising pitches, and the ‘give up your daily latte and support us’ plea is a common one. Sometimes giving is sacrificial, but Free The Girls isn’t asking you to give up anything!  In fact, The Underwire Club also comes with benefits. You’ll have the opportunity to follow a survivor’s journey on a more intimate level as well as the opportunity to have a virtual coffee date with a FTG staff member!  

So I encourage you to joyfully drink your latte, giving out of your abundance. Give because you are using your power to empower! Give because the $28 per month to support The Underwire Club is raising your voice to speak your truth; to say you care and are willing to invest in helping women find true freedom.

#chasingjustice #womensempowerment #JusticeInstitute #freethegirls

Written by Pam Gumns

Everyday Abolitionist with Maria from Horse & Soul

 

What is an everyday abolitionist?

“Everyday Abolitionists don’t sacrifice their own identity for the cause, they make the cause part of their identity in small, meaningful ways every day.”

Read more about our take on Everyday Abolitionists one of our previous blog posts here.


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Today we are excited to share about another Everyday Abolitionist, Maria from Horse & Soul.

Q. Where are you from and what are you passionate about? 

A. While I am originally from California, I now reside north of Houston in Conroe, Texas.  I grew up riding horses competitively in hunter/jumpers and eventing, and it is a deeply rooted passion in my life.  Horses were always a refuge for me, a place where I could get away and heal.  They were special to my life and allowed me to connect on a level that I acutely needed but had not experienced with people.  It wasn’t until later in my early twenties that I was able to find community where I could experience this same thing with others.

Q. Tell us about your heart for justice and what you decided to do about it.

A.  Everything that is wrong in the world, both on a micro and macro level is rooted in lies that people believe.  Lies can lead to two extremes causing people to either be the ones taken advantage of or the ones taking advantage.  If we believed the truth about ourselves and others - that we are precious and valuable - the world would become a much safer place.  I decided to help individuals and groups expose the unhealthy thought patterns that keep them stuck and help them move forward with healthy alternatives.

Q. Tell us about Horse & Soul! 

A. At Horse and Soul we help people live with hope and confidence in every area of their lives. We have served women coming out of addiction and incarceration, families on the verge of divorce, corporate teams wanting to grow in communication, and parents with their children working through past hurts and in need of tools for understanding one another. It is beautiful to see how every single time the horses intuitively know exactly what each person needs and God, in his gentleness and mercy, knows exactly what each person needs to hear.

Q. What inspired you to connect with Free The Girls?

A. The Executive Director of FTG, Courtney Skiera-Vaughn is a wonderful friend of mine and I love what FTG is doing to transform the lives and restore the dignity to women coming out of sex trafficking.  I love how God’s heart for justice and freedom has so many facets, from physical freedom, to emotional freedom, to spiritual freedom.  What a blessing to partner with an organization with the same piece of God’s heart! 


Q. How were you able to connect with and involve your local community? 

A. We were able to connect with and involve our local community through social media and bra collection events! We love seeing the community become passionate about setting the captive free and empowering women!

Q. How has your work with Free The Girls impacted you? 

A. Our work with Free The Girls has been a powerful reminder in our connectedness and our global responsibility to one another.  God loves seeing people come together to say "yes and amen!” to each other.  The beauty of the Kingdom is when we do so, we all win because it is His purposes that prevail.


Q. If you could inspire others to become everyday abolitionists too, what advice would you share? 

A. Start with where you are and the passions you already have!  Your passions are there for a reason and can be used by God.  When we pursue our God given passions two things happen - 1) we become the best and happiest versions of ourselves, the way God created us 2) people become attracted to what you are doing because of the joy they see in you.  

Q. Anything else you'd like to share? 

A.  I just want to thank you for taking the time to let me share a little bit.  Free The Girls is a gift to both the women you serve and those serving. It’s an honor to be a part of your community.

The Underwire Club

THE UNDERWIRE CLUB!

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Like us, you believe the work to rebuild and restore women to freedom is the most worthy investment of our day - it frees generations to come.

To invest means that you expect a tangible positive outcome. We receive every single dollar as a committed investment and partnership to see women walk in total freedom.


We’re inviting you to become a monthly investor for two years. Becoming part of The Underwire Club means that you’re committing to see women restored! We’re so excited to invite you into this journey, and to know that you’ll be inspired by the impact you’re able to make.

If you haven’t heard yet, we’re seeking 48 passionate people to commit to two years of supporting a woman. Our reintegration and bra selling program lasts two years. You’ll get to follow her journey on a more intimate level. You’ll get to experience the joy and satisfaction in knowing that you’re making a true impact for a woman in a developing nation - for a survivor of human trafficking, and for the generations that follow.

So we're inviting YOU to follow her journey and commit to giving $28 a month for two years. You'll get exclusive behind-the-scenes information and stories. You'll get the opportunity to meet for a virtual coffee date with an FTG staff member to hear about the latest.

And best of all? You'll get the joy of knowing you're making a true and lasting impact for a survivor of trafficking!
  

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You Matter

Hi friends! Courtney here.

 

We’ve got so many great things in the works right now that I am feeling a little guilty about taking a minute to write this.  I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop, looking out the window on a beautiful sunny day, the first hints of summer in the air.  I have my laptop out, and I’ve been working on an education component to our Everyday Abolitionist program – basically I have a document open that has a lot of awful stats about human trafficking.  The prevalence and scope of it, the amount of money generated yearly by oppressing and exploiting other human beings, and then an entire section on the complexity of survivorhood.  It’s for sure not the happiest Word document I’ve ever had opened.

 

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I’ve been working on this for a few months now, and there are times when I’m in public that I’m hesitant to open my laptop.  I’ve had so many side-eye looks, looks of shock and horror when people get a little too nosey and glance at what I’m working on, quick turnarounds, even slumped shoulders.  I almost feel guilty sometimes – like I’ve ruined someone’s lovely day with in-your-face depressing reality.  But there have been more than a few people who have actually engaged in conversation with me, asked me what I’m working on, strike up a conversation about human trafficking. 

 

This is my favorite.

 

It is a heavy topic.  Trafficking puts the focus on depravity, violence, darkness.  But one of the things all of us at Free The Girls strive for is to be an avenue for people to enter into this difficult dialogue without feeling triggered, without a feeling of helplessness, without becoming hopeless or, even worse, numb and apathetic.

 

Because reality is – trafficking is horrendous.  But reality also is – it’s not hopeless.  You don’t have to be resigned to shake your head, feel a pit in your stomach, wish you could do something, and then go about your day with some unnamed guilt hanging over your head.

 

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No.  You have a role to play. 

You do.  I promise. 

What you do makes a difference.

 

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When you donate a bra, that becomes the actual inventory for a woman to sell in her business, making money in a manner full of dignity and confidence to feed herself, provide a home for her babies and children, and maybe even go back to school.

 

When you donate bucks, make a financial contribution or hold a fundraiser, those funds go towards sorting, repacking, and shipping those bras.  It goes towards tape, boxes, fumigation, shipping.  It goes towards programs like this education piece I’m currently working on that gets information into your hands for you to then educate others in your own community.

 

When you become a Bra Drop-off Location, you’re not only spreading awareness to your clients, customers, patients.  You’re also advocating for the women, leveraging your position in your community for the greater good on the other side of the world.

 

When you join The Underwire Club, we as a staff get to know you a little better, cultivate community with you, and you in turn get to know more of the ins and outs of what’s happening in our programs overseas, you get to celebrate with the women as they begin businesses and eventually graduate.

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What I’m trying to say is that what you do matters on multiple levels – in your own neighborhood and across the globe. 

What you do matters.  You matter.

It’s not hopeless, friend.  Don’t become numb.  Mobilize.  Be involved. 

Fight for global justice for survivors. 

Be a woman helping a woman.  Be an investor in a small business run by an incredibly capable woman who has overcome so much and is the very definition of resilience.

 We can’t do it without you.  Truly.

-Going to get a refill on this latte now,

Courtney

You're Invited to Follow Her Journey

One of our mottos is “Eternally Optimistic”. We believe this in our bones, otherwise there’s no way we could do this day in and day out. There are dark realities associated with this work. There are real obstacles and challenges for every woman who enters our program. There are painful truths about human trafficking and sexual exploitation that we are confronted with on the daily. But as a friend of FTG, Jocelyn Doese says, “we will be the hopeful” because we have seen transformation, redemption, and restoration take root in the lives of the women who choose to sell bras and open her own business through our program.

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We will be the hopeful.

Just as in any business venture, investors are key. While we couldn’t do what we do without all those bra donations showing up at our collection site over 300 days a year, the truth is our women need investors as well as inventory.

And so, we’d like to invite you to join THE UNDERWIRE CLUB!

Our program is created to be 2 years long. And as such, we are beginning a brand new monthly giving program that lasts for 2 years. As an investor during those 2 years, you’ll get exclusive insight into what the journey to true freedom looks like for women in Mozambique, El Salvador, or Costa Rica. You’ll get to catch a glimpse of what happens in that short 24 month timeframe that launches a woman into true freedom. From exploited to empowered, from scared and nervous to brave and bold, from having to live hand to mouth in a day by day fashion to planning for not only her own future, but the future of her children and even her children’s children.

The Underwire Club is for those committed to supporting our women. We are asking for $28/month. As a monthly donor in the club, you’ll be investing in new businesses (and the women who run them) in Africa and Central America.

We currently have 48 women in our program, and in honor of them, we are looking for 48 new monthly donors to commit for 24 months.

We invite you to join in the journey.

The journey of what it’s like for a woman to start her business, to experience challenges and celebrations along the way, and to honor the excitement and pride of graduation.

We are optimistic - eternally so - that more and more women who have been abused, exploited, oppressed, and trafficked into the commercial sex industry will arise as fierce businesswomen and leaders in their communities.

Will you join her?

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