Southeast Asia Update!
We have confirmed the location of where the first few co-operatives (co-ops) will be planted. These co-ops will be owned and run jointly by the members who will share the profits and benefits of the company. We are so excited to open doors of possibilities for these women who have been told to hope for nothing, and who haven’t had a chance to dream or believe in themselves. These women have either been rescued from human trafficking or are at high risk of being trafficked. The women in this first co-op have already have been trained in sewing and that will give us more time to be able to train other women to use and operate the equipment that is needed to produce our fashion apparel line.
It is very tempting to try to play superman and superwoman (sometimes, I swear, someone on the team is wearing a cape underneath their clothes) and be involved in the answer to every part of the issue of human trafficking: prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, repatriation, and integration. However, we know that we are called to be an answer to one piece of the puzzle. We want to empower these women as they continue their journey of healing to own their own business and have an income to support their families. We won’t go into much detail at this time as to what will be offered while they are formed into sewing co-ops, but we are just so excited to be a small part in their story.
While in Southeast Asia in September 2015, Alisha had the opportunity to be part of one girl’s story.
The Story of The Moon
Some friends and I were in a city of 500,000 people, 200,000 of whom are sex-trafficking victims. As we were walking, my friends and I decided to stop along the beach where thousands of girls were standing under the swaying coconut trees selling themselves. We were offering these girls a chance to have their nails painted as we talked with them and encouraged them. The girls under the coconut trees are not as protected as the girls in the 22,000 bars in this city. There is a lot of risk that is involved, and many of new girls usually start off by being sold on the beach.
We had already made friends with many girls, so we were having quite the little party. You could hear the waves washing up on the beach, with the smell of saltwater filling our noses as laughter bounced about on the wind.
I had glanced up and this young girl, about 19, caught my eye. She looked very nervous, glancing around, and I noticed a sack of clothes that was next to her. I knew from my previous trips that this meant that she probably had just arrived within the last few days. Without a thought, I started to wave and put the smile from my heart onto my lips and motioned for her to come over. Her eyes widened and she shook her head, no. So I made more funny faces and begged her to come over. I tried to entice her with some presents that we had for the girls. Still she shook her head, no. One of the older girls who we had just met noticed what I was doing and she stood up in her heels, walked over to her, rattled off some things to her, and shooed her towards me.
Her name was Moon.
My friend, who knew the language, and I started to talk to her and ask her questions while we painted her nails. She was married at 14, ran away at 19, and had just arrived in the city that day. She had spent the day looking for work and wasn’t able to find a job. Now, without any money or a place to stay, she was told to make money by going under the coconut trees to sell herself. She told us she didn’t want to do this work, but she didn’t know what else to do.
I think I painted her nails three times trying to stall for time to get her whole story out and to share my friend’s story and my story with her.
We had a couple men stop by who tried to purchase her while we were with her. The final time it happened, the man was standing there waiting and would not take no for an answer. I can’t even describe the many emotions that rushed through me as I had to firmly tell him to get lost. It was after that final experience that we knew we had to get her out of there.
I can’t tell you the feeling I had as we watched one girl come out from under the coconut trees. She was literally minutes away from being swallowed by the darkness that was surrounding her. It was such a victory to be able to buy her “Hello Kitty” pj’s…I wouldn’t even want to imagine what her night would have been like without us. She enjoyed a slumber party with friends instead of trauma with strangers.
Long story short and with the help of many hearts, we were able to reunite Moon with her family.
She wanted a job, but there wasn’t a job to be found. Her story is all too similar to many of the stories in these cities.
We want to provide another way for these girls to support themselves, to have a choice, and to feel empowered. We want to give the girls a job with dignity after they have been rescued out of human trafficking
There is another way. We want to be a part of their stories.
We are inviting you to partner with us. Join our #3kFiFTY initiative. We are looking for 3,000 people to donate $50 to fully fund our project for the first year. Donate HERE.