Frequently Asked Questions
What is the mission of Free The Girls?
We are a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit that exists to help women rescued from sex trafficking reintegrate into their communities. We are committed to empowering women to walk in true freedom. We are best known for our economic empowerment model of collecting bras (from people just like you!) and helping formerly trafficked women in developing countries become entrepreneurs selling these bras in their local second-hand clothing markets in their communities.
What is the vision of FTG?
We see a world in which previously enslaved women are leading vibrant, successful, integrated lives.
Where in the world do you work?
We currently operate in Maputo, Mozambique; San Salvador, El Salvador; and San Jose, Costa Rica. We did have a project in Kampala, Uganda that was phased out due to import laws and incredible partners that offered other opportunities for the women.
How do you choose which countries to work in?
A variety of factors go into this decision. One thing that goes into our choice to launch in a country is the import laws. Some countries consider bras underwear and others as clothing. Since importing second-hand underwear is illegal in nearly every country, we have to look at where we can legally import used bras as clothing. Another major factor we investigate is whether there’s a market for bras. Some countries already have a saturated market for bras, while others have no call for bras. We do market research and viability studies to ensure that the women are able to make a living wage selling bras in the second-hand clothing markets in their communities. We also investigate if there is a thriving local textile industry manufacturing lingerie in-country as we never want to depress the local economy or compete with local manufacturers.
Who are the people in your program?
We serve women who are survivors of sex trafficking. Some of these women have been in prostitution since they were young girls, others have been trafficked internationally through the false promise of a job as adults. But regardless of their backstory, these incredibly resilient women are no longer trafficking victims, no longer in commercial sex. They are walking on their journey towards freedom!
So you hire women to sell bras?
Nope! This is our favorite part – the women work for themselves! They are entrepreneurs! They do not work for FTG, they do not work for our partner organizations – they work for themselves. These women are coming out of a situation in which they were not in control of their lives – in some cases, they were not even able to decide what to wear or eat! But now, through self-employment, they have all control and say as to how they work, where they work, when they work, and who they work with. Watching the women thrive as they gain control back of their lives is what keeps us going!
The intended length of stay in our program is two years. However, each woman’s situation is different, and we tailor the program for each woman based her individual needs.
How long are they in the program?
Bras – By donating bras, you are equipping and empowering formerly trafficked women to walk in true freedom and economic empowerment. Find out more here!
Investment – We work with a lean budget, but it certainly isn’t cheap shipping bras all over the world! We receive every single dollar as a committed investment and partnership to see women walk in true freedom, not just for themselves but for generations to come! Learn more about investing in true freedom here.
Action – Human trafficking is a global issue and thus requires a global solution. Through your advocacy, purchases, and prayers, we invite you to amplify the voice of those who have been affected by human trafficking. Learn more about becoming an Everyday Abolitionist here.
What are your biggest needs as an organization?
Who started FTG?
FTG was co-founded by Kimba Langas and Dave Terpstra. This dynamic duo asked the question, “What are these women being rescued to?” and after an unexpected encounter with a bra-seller in Mozambique (read the story here), a CNN documentary, and an incredible army of volunteers, FTG became what it is today! However, we could not do what we do without Duneland Community Church (DCC). This generous church, lovingly known far and wide as “The Bra Church,” provides a large section of their building to be our Collection Site (yep, if you’ve ever sent a bra, it’s been in DCC!), and there’s an amazing group of volunteers from the congregation and local community that gather every 6 weeks and open, sort, and repack thousands upon thousands of bras.
What do you mean by “true freedom”?
The goal of our model is true and total freedom. Freedom is not simply distance from a brothel or a pimp. True freedom is nothing less than women walking in wholeness – physically (in sobriety and with access to healthcare), financially (able to provide for herself and her family without being vulnerable for future re-trafficking), emotionally (through trauma therapy and psychosocial support), mentally, and spiritually. What does that look like? It means being free to dress the way one wants, free to believe and worship, free do choose what to eat, free to send her children to school, free to pursue adult education, free to dream. It means being free as a mom, sister, daughter – establishing freedom for the next generation. (Click here to read more about how our women define freedom).
Where are your US offices?
In order to keep our overhead costs as low as possible and because we couldn’t find just one place where all the awesome people live, we don’t have actual offices! We all work from home and are spread out across the country - from Ohio to New York, Tennessee to Indiana. We do have our Collection Site in Chesterton, Indiana where you are more than welcome to attend a Bra Packing Party! Please email us at email@example.com if you or a group are interested in helping sort thousands of bras in the name of freedom!
Please note : Our corporate mailing address is Free The Girls, 191 University Blvd, Ste 256, Denver CO 80206
How many staff members do you have?
We have 3 full-time staff members, 4 part-time staff members, and an entire crew of volunteers spread out across the U.S. that make all of this happen! (Click here to see more about Our Team and Our Volunteers)
It’s an unusual idea - we’ll give you that! It’s amazing how something so simple can be used for such extraordinary purposes. Bras are something that so many of us have in abundance – many women have at least one bra that fits just a little bit wonky that is kept in the back of the lingerie drawer. But for the women in our program, bras sell for top dollar. The communities where we work have markets where bras are not manufactured locally and show how hip, modern, and cosmopolitan you are, and thus sell for a good price. Bras also provide a safe income as the women sell to other women in the marketplace as the transaction of money can be a trigger for women coming out of commercial sex.
New and gently used, please! If it’s so old, torn, or stained that you don’t want to wear it anymore, then our women certainly won’t be able to sell them! But if they are still in good condition, send them our way! We take regular, underwire, padded, nursing, sports bras, etc. (Click for .pdf of Bras We Want)
What kinds of bras of you need/want?
If you have just a few, you can take them to one of our incredible Bra Drop-off Locations! If you’ve held a Bra Drive or have a good number of bras to send, you can pop them in a box and mail them straight us to our Collection Site in Indiana: Free The Girls, 1552 Pioneer Trail, Chesterton, IN 46304
How do I get my bras to you?
What in the world is a Bra Packing Party?
At our Collection Site, we receive envelopes with just a couple bras, huge boxes of hundreds of bras, and anything in between! Our storage room fills up every 4 weeks or so with 20,000+ bras, and then we hold a Packing Party! At these parties, every package is opened; checks and cash are set aside; bras are sorted into new or used; repacked into FTG boxes, taped, weighed, and put onto pallets where they will be transported to LR International, our shipping partners in Chicago. If you or a group are interested in volunteering at a Bra Packing Party, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I know you received my box of bras and cash/check donation?
We receive on average around 20,000 bras per month! With our small staff spread out across the country, it’s not feasible to notify everyone when their box is received. However, we typically hold a Bra Packing Party every four weeks or so. Shortly after the party in which your box was opened and sorted, you should receive a thank you and acknowledgement for your contribution provided you have your return address neatly printed on the box! (Again, please note that it can take up to two months after you’ve mailed your box to receive this acknowledgement depending on when the next Packing Party is held.) Filling out our Bra Donation Form will also make the tracking of your box a bit easier for us. We would love for you to take just a few seconds to fill this out!
How can I get involved?
What is your EIN?
This is our absolute favorite question! We believe that everyone can get involved in anti-trafficking. Please click here to read about ways to impact the global issue of sex trafficking.
Our EIN is 27-2454072 and you can also read more about our organization on Guidstar - which helps individuals and donors improve their understanding of the nonprofit sector and the organizations that serve the causes they care about. We have been given the Gold rating demonstrating our commitment to transparency. You can see us on Guidestar here.