Candlemaker Illuminates the Darkness

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web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

Changing the world looks different for each person. But everyone is capable of changing the world in some way. Meet Susie, a world changer who also happens to be a creative and small business owner. Susie decided to take her passion for candle making and use it to bring freedom and justice through giving to Freedom 4/24.

#20. Susie Lake

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Occupation: Property Manager/Small business owner

Amount Fundraised: $500 

Susie, you turned a passion into a cause recently by selling your handmade candles and donating part of the proceeds to Freedom 4/24. Tell us more about what you did.

I love making candles, but I knew that I wanted to do more than just sell candles. I wanted my small business to be able to help people in some way. There are so many amazing organizations doing important work that have a lasting impact. My husband and I decided to take a portion of our profits from the candles we sell and donate it to different nonprofits to be a small part of what they are doing.  We love learning more about each nonprofit we donate towards and sharing about these organizations with our customers!

Why Freedom 4/24? How did you get connected to us?

I heard about Freedom 4/24 through social media. After reading a post about the organization, I knew I wanted to learn more about what they do. When I read the mission of Freedom 4/24, I knew I wanted to be involved in some way.  

What about Freedom 4/24’s mission speaks to you?

In our society, it is easy to not think about what countless women and children go through in relation to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Many of us live our lives without any thought as to what others suffer through. We have so many things that can distract us from the pain and suffering that is happening around us. It is so important to be educated and made aware that human trafficking happens, because we can be a part of the change. I know this is a subject I didn’t think much about until I heard about Freedom 4/24. Now I want to be a part of ending human trafficking for good!  

How did you start making candles?

I actually started making candles to use for Christmas gifts one year with a good friend of mine. I loved it so much that I didn’t want to stop making them after Christmas. I’ve always loved having candles in my home, but I had no idea the chemicals I was putting in our air. As I continued to research candle making, I quickly decided that I wanted to make all natural, soy candles to prevent breathing in these toxic chemicals. I have participated in two craft shows and sold to friends and family. I am continuing to grow my small business through my website and the local community.  

Susie uses her passion for candle making for more than just business but to bring freedom and justice to trafficking victims worldwide.
Susie uses her passion for candle making for more than just business but to bring freedom and justice to trafficking victims worldwide.

What’s your favorite part of the process?

I love that candle making is a science. You have to be very careful to do each part of the process at the correct temperature and measure everything correctly. I have really enjoyed figuring that part of the process out. I also love working on how to package my candles. It took me awhile to find jars that I love and to perfect the tags I put on each candle, but I love letting my creative juices flow in this way.  

You are a great example of someone who took their time and talent and used it for a greater good. How would you encourage someone else considering doing a fundraiser?

There is nothing better than doing something to help others! Getting to do something I love and helping people at the same time is my dream! I’m so thankful that the Lord has provided me a way to use something I love to have a positive impact. If you’re considering doing something like this, do it! The Lord can use even a small amount to make a difference! I was worried that my small candle business would not allow for me to come close to break even let alone be able to donate to a nonprofit. It’s so exciting to see how God will work through me if I’m just willing to take a step in faith!

Now it is time to ask yourself some questions: What are you passionate about? How can you leverage your job or talent to make a difference in someone else’s life? How you can you use your one life to play a part in ending human trafficking in this generation? If you are ready to begin a fundraiser, email Emily@freedom424.org with your idea to get started.

Everyone's Got One: How Will You Use Yours?

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web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

Year in and year out, birthdays are inevitable. We receive gifts that we often quickly forget about or take back to the store because we didn’t really like them. What if you treated this year’s birthday differently? What if you used this simple passage of time to change someone else’s life? That’s exactly what Conaire Hallisy, a long-time friend of our President Tim Spaulding, did. Read on to discover why he decided to GIVE instead of get this year.

#19. Conaire Hallisy

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Fundraiser Event: 35th Birthday

Amount Raised: $7,200

Recently, you “donated” your birthday to Freedom 4/24. How did you come up with the idea?

Every birthday I’ve ever had has been a bit selfish—I mean, don’t get me wrong, we’re allowed to be selfish on our birthdays, it’s literally our day, but I wanted to use my birthday to help out this year.

Here is a crazy idea!  What if everyone gave on their birthday instead of taking?! I bet, and this is wild, that your heart would be 10 times fuller from filling someone else’s cup than filling your own. It has taken me 35 years to figure out that simple truth.

How did you get connected to the mission of Freedom 4/24?

Tim Spaulding and I taught English together in Japan almost 15 years ago.  He was a great man and I knew he would do great things, so I wanted to support him and all the great work being done by Freedom 4/24.

Which aspects of fighting human trafficking resonate with you?

Wow, that is a tough question.  I originally attended law school because I wanted to prosecute those who facilitate the atrocities of human trafficking.  I ended up not following this path, but still have a deep unrest in my soul about those who perpetrate such heinous crimes.  At this moment in my life, providing financial assistance and awareness is the greatest way I can influence the situation, so I was happy to help out in the small instance of my birthday donation.

How did you go about asking for birthday donations?

Very simply, I created a short video about Freedom 4/24 and posted it on my Facebook page.  The team at Freedom 4/24 put together a site for my friends and family to donate.  It was simple, easy, and it created a truly amazing outpouring of generosity.

How much did you raise?

My friends and family contributed around $2,400, and I matched the $2,400, so around $4,800 total.  I’ll submit my donation to my company for matching funds, so altogether the small birthday fundraiser raised $7,200.

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What would you say to someone who was thinking of donating their birthday?

I would say: Do it!! Freedom 4/24 is awesome and they are doing amazing things in the world.  I would say to get them to create a giving page for you, then create a short video about Freedom and your fundraiser.  Post it on social media and ask friends to share it.  I should have probably been a bit more aggressive, but the modest side of me got the best of me, and I only posted it a few times.  With that said, I am humbled by the grace of God and all my amazing friends and their generous hearts.

How did you celebrate your 35th birthday?

I went for a long run and had a dinner with some friends.  Pretty low key, but I wanted it that way.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35. This year, use your birthday to change the lives of girls in your town and all across the globe that have been sold into sex slavery. To start a fundraiser, email Emily@freedom424.org and find out how YOU can change a life.

Putting the "Fun" in Fundraising

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web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

 Do you run? Play video games? Lift weights? Take photos? Whatever it is you love, you can use it to bring freedom to girls around the world who need it. YOU can be their hero by simply raising money around the activity you love the most. Want proof? Read on to learn what our founder and her friends did, then email Emily@freedom424.org to start your own fundraiser.

#14, #15, #16, #17, #18. Laura, Eric, Michael & Christine Gelatt, Colleen Alber

The team raised $5,750 for Freedom 4/24.
The team raised $5,750 for Freedom 4/24.

Fundraiser Event: May 7, 2016 / Indianapolis Mini Marathon

Amount raised: $5,760

Christine, as the founder of Freedom 4/24, our mission is obviously dear to your heart. How did this translate to the idea of running a half marathon with friends to raise money?

Michael [my husband] and I love the Run 4 Their Lives component of Freedom 4/24. It provides a great way for people to rally together to take a stand against human trafficking and exploitation. Since we moved to Indianapolis in 2014, we had been thinking about the possibility of starting a race here. However, we never felt like we were in a place to take on the full responsibility of leading a race with excellence. Last December, we thought of using this idea of running a pre-established race (half marathon or more) and fundraising for Freedom 4/24. I contacted the folks who put on the Indy Mini, and they were happy to let us use their race as the platform for our fundraiser.

How did you get the team together?

We asked some of our close friends and family members if they would be interested in spearheading this with us. Our goal for this year was to navigate this method of fundraising to see if it can be effective. We worked with Joy [Marinelli, Freedom 4/24 National Race Director] to create an incentive structure for reaching various fundraising milestones, we set up a unique donating platform via a website for each team member to be able to track their individual fundraising goals, and we navigated various methods of reaching those goals.

In the future, we’d like to focus more on building our team. We’d love to see this grow not just in Indianapolis, but in half marathons and marathons all over the country! We see incredible potential with this method.

Tell us about fundraising. What was your approach as a team?

Our main approach was simply to put the issue in front of people. We encouraged team members to post statistics, stories, videos, etc., of the reality of human trafficking on their social media platforms. Some team members sent emails to close friends and family members asking for their support.

Michael had one of the more unique ideas of selling individual pounds of his famous Applewood smoked bacon for a suggested donation of $10/lb. He ended up raising almost $750 as a direct result of that. It didn’t hurt that many people donated $50+ for their pound of bacon!

Michael and I decided to write the names of all of the individuals who had donated toward our goals on the backs of our race shirts. We wanted to make sure they were there with us as we ran!

Michael and Christine wrote the names of every donor on their race shirts.
Michael and Christine wrote the names of every donor on their race shirts.

Was this your first half marathon? Were all the members of your team runners before?

This was my third half marathon, but it was the first that had a bigger purpose in mind. Two other members on our team, Colleen and Laura, are much more consistent and serious runners. We felt more legitimate having them on our team.

Tell us about the race itself. What was the experience like for you?

The race is an absolute blast. The Indi Mini is one of the largest half marathons in the United States, so the sheer amount of people made it a really fun environment. It is a really neat experience to run for 13.1 miles and literally have the course packed with people the entire route.  Half way through the course you actually run a lap on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Runners are encouraged to kiss the starting line bricks as they pass it!

As Freedom 4/24's founder, why do you continue to invest and believe in the mission?

Simply put, there is more work to do.  I’ve seen a lot of positive change since 2008 in the arena of awareness, but I’m still passionate about mobilizing everyday individuals to do their part in bringing freedom and justice to one more victim at a time. I’m passionate about the work that Freedom 4/24 continues to do, and Michael and I are thankful to be a part of it.

The mission of Freedom 4/24 is to bring freedom and justice to victims and survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation by 1) raising awareness, and (2) to financially partner with organizations around the world that are dedicated to bringing freedom and justice to victims. Any time we can do something that filters that mission by accomplishing both of those things is a win. Through our fundraising we informed hundreds if not thousands of new people not just about the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, but also about the work Freedom 4/24 is doing to confront it.

In addition, we raised thousands of dollars to help support that work. Sometimes doing your part isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s about doing what you are already passionate about (or simply doing what you think is fun) and making it have an eternal purpose.

Pattaya & Praying Impossible Prayers

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“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

It has been an incredibly busy two months. Three-quarters of our staff spent 10 days co-hosting a camp for teenage trafficking survivors in India, then returned to hold two successful Run 4 Their Lives races in Virginia. We are grateful for the many wins YOU helped us accomplish during this time. While we catch our breath and collect our thoughts, we want to take you back to December 2015 to give you an update on what is happening with our Freedom 4/24 partner in Bangkok, Thailand, Home of New Beginnings. Here is a look at the exciting expansion on the horizon for them, and the heartbreaking reality of WHY this expansion is needed, through the eyes of Freedom 4/24's team trip leader, Megan MacDougall.

#13. Megan MacDougall, Thailand Trip Leader

Team Pattaya Safe House

“God delights in our impossible prayers.” –Bob Goff, author of the New York Times best-seller “Love Does”

Pattaya, Thailand: A scene that brought a fresh perspective to what Jesus knew to be true, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

At first glance, it masquerades as a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively, from the streets of Bangkok, where we had just spent a week in its red light districts. Instead of hot smog with putrid stench and not much in the way of a view, Pattaya greets you with palm trees swaying in a cool breeze, beaches as far as the eye can see, and sunsets that cast bold colors of orange and pink across an expansive ocean. It is initially inviting, as though this is a place you can let your guard down and relax. But our team knew not to trust its invitation. As Bonita, the founder of Home of New Beginnings (HONB), cautioned us, “Pattaya makes Bangkok look like Sunday school.” Her warning proved all too accurate.

Walking Street Wide

After a 2.5-hour van ride, we pulled up to the newest location of HONB, a safe house in Pattaya. As we walked through the house, I found myself picturing the many broken souls that will come through its doors and the healing and transformation these walls will see. As we made our way into downtown Pattaya later that evening, we witnessed streets lined with bar after bar busting at the seams with girls for sale. In Pattaya customers here can “buy” whatever they seek —any age, race, or gender. The streets we walked were filled with men, women, and children whose identities were reduced to a price tag.

As we drove through several red light districts, we learned staggering statistics about Pattaya, including that it is home to approximately 1,843 bars, some 30,000 “above ground” prostitutes (there are many more underground) during what they call “dry season,” and during peak season that number rises to approximately 50,000. After walking through what is known as “Walking Street,” the infamous “unrivaled epicenter of Pattaya’s bustling nightlife” as one article referred to it, these statistics felt undeniably possible. It also felt impossible that any of it could change. That’s when I decided to start praying impossible prayers.

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Walking Street is so busy, so claustrophobically full of people buying other people like they are pieces of meat. Rubbing shoulders with those who shamelessly purchase other human beings out in the open feels like a form of hell on Earth. Watching adults forcing little girls to dance in the street before the ogling eyes of men is enough to turn even the toughest stomach. Many bars there have bouncers standing outside of their doors, not to protect the women and girls inside, but instead to ensure their merchandise is paid for and brought back. We learned these bars are owned by the Russian mafia and the girls within them are mostly trafficked.

On Walking Street alone, there are women and girls from all over the world. The one thing connecting us all—the girl from Asia and the girl from Africa, the girls being sold, and the women whose hearts broke at the sight of them being purchased—is a God whose undeniable love for us is real, who desperately wants us to know Him. I believe God brought us to Pattaya to see the 5-year-old girl heavily made up and barely dressed, dancing and seductively winking at her admirers. Where did she learn that? I cried inside. My attention was also drawn to a girl with bruises running down her leg, dancing in the window above a bar. How did she learn to smile through pain? I wondered.

At one point, a man grabbed one of my teammates’ arms and attempt to purchase her. Perhaps that was God revealing to us that this COULD be us. We could be the ones barely dressed, feigning happiness and enthusiasm to go with the next paying customer, not knowing what the following hours would bring but understanding fully that our worth had literally been quantified.

While in Pattaya, God allowed us to see the wounded and the maimed, the lost and the absolutely hopeless, the ones who have never known love and certainly don’t know the One who created it.  But He did not just bring us here to see them but also to immerse us into their world, to hug them without reservation, to let our hearts break over them, to hold their hands, to place a bracelet on their wrist and tell them of their worth, to smile at them and to ceaselessly intercede for them.  He brought us there to bring us back home changed.  To return with stories in our mind and faces in our hearts.  To share with those ready to hear about the travesties happening outside of our safe neighborhoods. And to comprehend fully why each one of us has the story we do—so we can better love others, speak out when they are unable, and recognize our Savior in another’s hurting eyes.

This is why He created you, me, the church—to be advocates that enter into the mess so we can be a part of the reconciliation. It is easy to believe that in Pattaya, in Bangkok, in any red light district or brothel in the world that it isn’t working. It’s easy to think, What’s the point? With thousands of bars and tens of thousands of people for sale, is it worth it? I am just one person.

Pattaya Skyline

But transformation is happening. I know this because I have seen the first-hand healing of the girls who live at New Beginnings. They have told me of their journeys and their hopes and dreams because they now have Christ. So, I continue in my impossible prayers. For the girls of Pattaya and Bangkok, and all over the world who are being sold every day. I pray that they not only be rescued but restored. The girls at New Beginnings know it is possible. Who am I to say otherwise?

As for me, I choose to use my one life and one voice to help make the impossible possible.

The question is: Will you join me?

 Freedom 4/24 exists to raise awareness and support for our partner organizations like Home of New Beginnings, who do the difficult work on the ground of rescuing and restoring girls who have been sexually exploited or trafficked. Beginnings offers safe shelter, counseling, food, medical care, and an education through college for the girls who call it home. YOU help make this possible. Please consider partnering with us today. Click here to become a recurring giver so we can continue this important mission.

 

Raise Your Arm for Anita

Raise Your Arm for Anita

On April 1, we begin our #RaiseYourArmChallenge! We want you to know WHO you are raising your arm for as you take the simple challenge with us this month.

This is Anita, a survivor of sex trafficking. After years of being sold for sex, Anita was rescued and has since found new life and hope, for both herself and her daughter, through Freedom 4/24's partner in India, Freedom Firm. Her story is powerful, showing the atrocities of human trafficking as well as the beautiful hope of freedom and restoration we fight for every day at Freedom 4/24.

Remember her story as you write Anita's name on your arm over the next 30 days and pray for her and other victims and survivors leading up to Run 4 Their Lives event on April 30th. Let it break your heart, inspire you, and move you to greater action. Start by watching, then click here to take our #RaiseYourArmChallenge. Together, we can bring freedom!

The Story of Freedom 4/24

Share Our Story!

This morning, Freedom 4/24 founder Christine Gelatt, shared the story of Freedom 4/24 with more than 10,000 college students at Liberty University during campus convocation. Christine was a 19-year-old college student at LU in 2008 when she founded Freedom 4/24. The journey since then has been nothing short of a God-sized movement.

Please share this video with your family and friends and consider joining us for Run 4 Their Lives on April 30. You can participate no matter where you live! Run the race in Lynchburg or participate in our Virtual Race from any location.

THANK YOU for being a part of our story as we work together to bring freedom and justice to women and girls around the world!

February 2016 Freedom Forum

Freedom Forum is a monthly visual round-up of insight into Freedom 4/24 and the fight against human trafficking.

Race Season is Here!

Run 4 Their Lives events are on the horizon around the country and no matter where you live, you can participate! Here's what is new this year:
1. Participate Virtually from Anywhere
The newest Freedom 4/24 initiative, the spring Run 4 Their Lives Virtual 5K can be completed anywhere, including a treadmill. To participate, simply map your own course and run/walk your course anytime between April 30 and May 1. When you register to participate in the virtual event, you will receive a t-shirt, an event medal, and a bio of a human trafficking survivor for whom you can pray, fundraise, and run!
2. Use Your Business for Good
There are many ways your business, employees, and patrons can help support this race and the cause of Freedom 4/24. Help us financially by becoming a race sponsor, or support the event by donating goods and services like gifts cards, items that can be given as prizes at the event, or food and drinks for the event participants. Then, put up our race announcement poster in your stores and encourage your employees to participate or volunteer!
3. Refer Friends for a Discount on Your Entry 
When you register for a race near you, you receive a code to share with your friends and family through email or social media. For the first FOUR people who use your code to register, you receive a $2 discount per person. When a FIFTH person uses your code, you receive a bonus $12 discount for a total of $20 off the $24 registration fee! Sign up today and start referring.

Participate Now!

 

PARTNER UPDATES

Freedom 4/24 partner, The Arbor Charlottesville, has named Seth Wispelwey as its new Executive Director. Wispelwey begins his tenure in the role March 7. The Arbor, a Charlottesville nonprofit, strives to help eliminate modern-day slavery in Virginia by providing safe housing, connections to resources, and a supportive community from which women who are survivors of human trafficking can reclaim vibrant, healthy, and independent lives.Wispelwey joins The Arbor following his tenure with International Justice Mission, a global organization that protects the poor from violence, including forced labor slavery and human trafficking, in the developing world. Taking the helm at The Arbor as it enters its second full year of operations, Wispelwey succeeds Joanna Jennings, a co-founder of The Arbor and the first executive director who led the organization through its establishment, opening, and first year of service.On May 7, Freedom 4/24 will partner with The Arbor to hold Run 4 Their Lives Charlottesville. Learn more and sign up at www.R4TL.com.

Stand with us to #EndIt

Shine a Light on Slavery Day is this Thursday, February 25. This day is about all of us raising our collective voices for freedom. Put an "X" on your hand and post it online to show your support.

Remember, that the work to fight human trafficking is year round. It's what gets us out of bed every morning. And it is only possible through YOUR support! As little as $24/month helps to provide rescue and restoration to girls around the world. Click below to partner with us today. Together, we can #EndIt.

Give Now!

 

  Inspiration to #EndIt

A Simple Gift: A Story of Bracelets, Beauty, and Bangkok

web_for24 “For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.


 Getting involved with us in the fight against human trafficking needn't be complicated. In fact, it often begins with creatively using the resources right in front of you. That's the story of Joy Johnson. Her heart was compelled by the stories she saw and heard from our team in Bangkok, Thailand, and knew she can to do something. So she used the thing she knows best--her business and jewelry--to help convey love and honor to girls halfway around the world. 

Joy Johnson

#12. Joy Johnson & the One-for-One Campaign

Occupation: Director & Stylist for Stella & Dot        Location: Forest, VA

Joy, you decided to utilize your role with Stella & Dot to impact girls in the red light districts and at Beginnings, our partner in Bangkok. Tell us what you did.

In 2014, I partnered with Johanna [Calfee, Freedom 4/24’s Communications Director] to raise funds for her trip to Thailand. I donated 100% of my commissions from a Trunk Show she hosted towards her missions trip. At that show I felt led to do more. I wanted to go beyond funding her trip. That is when we came up with the idea of a “one for one” campaign. With this campaign, I personally offered to send a matched bracelet to Thailand for each one purchased. My mission was not only to send these bracelets to impact the girls with a message of love and hope, but also to raise awareness here. I asked the buyer to wear their bracelet as a reminder of their matched girls’ need for freedom.

We had an overwhelming response and were able to send 100 bracelets that first year. This past December, we decided to do this again but with a goal of 200. We have had such an amazing response and met our goal!

December 2015: Team member, Erin Caswell, places a bracelet on a girl's wrist in a red light district in Bangkok, Thailand.

What inspired you to send bracelets to these women?

Just thinking of these girls makes my eyes fill with tears. They are girls, not women! They are forced to do things that we can’t even bear to imagine. Their innocence, their heartache, their strength, their need to be needed by someone who truly loves them, motivates me. I pray and hope each year that when they receive the bracelets and message of someone wishing for their freedom, moves them to know they do have value. They are loved. They are made with a purpose and made for more.

Images from the One for One campaign Joy used to fundraise for the bracelets.

What reactions have you seen from other people when they find out about these bracelets, and realize they have an opportunity to touch these lives in Bangkok?

I have had such an amazing response. Most people don’t realize what Freedom 4/24 is and what they’re doing at Home of New Beginnings [Freedom 4/24’s partner in Bangkok, Thailand]. When I am able to let them know about the ministry and what the bracelets will represent to these girls, they are deeply moved. I have had the privilege of sharing this campaign with several women at Stella & Dot Home Office. They have been inspired to spread the information about Freedom 4/24. With that, I hope to spread awareness and acquire more monthly sponsors!

What is it about Freedom 4/24, and the girls and women of Bangkok, that connects to your heart?

I have always had a heart for the emotional lost and burdened. I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Psychology because I wanted to work with children of divorce. I personally know the emotional trauma of a broken home, and the need to feel wanted loved and needed. I can’t even imagine the magnitude of these emotions the girls in sex trafficking experience. If this bracelet can give them one small ounce of love and acceptance, then my mission is accomplished. I know that through so many prayers going up for them through this, many of them will find the ultimate love in our Savior. Without His love and acceptance, I am nothing. With that, I am connected to these girls.

The girls at the Home of New Beginnings proudly wear their bracelets given to them on the 2015 trip.

Our teams on the ground in Thailand both years sent back pictures and stories of the big impact this simple gift had on the girls there. What was your reaction to seeing this?

I was astonished! I had no idea what to expect. Johanna’s team said giving out those bracelets to the girls they connected with in the red light districts was one of the most moving parts of the trip. Their reactions to this simple act of receiving these bracelets brought many of these girls to tears. Truly, it is such an amazing gift to say I played a small role in bringing a smile to their faces.

I plan on doing this every year going forward. My heart is telling me that I need to be a part of hand delivering them next year!

Inspired by Joy's story? Want to join the fight? Start today by giving a gift or creating a fundraiser by visiting Freedom424.org. 

 

January 2016 Freedom Forum

Freedom Forum is a monthly visual round-up of insight into Freedom 4/24 and the fight against human trafficking.

3 Ways You Can Help Us Bring Freedom in 2016

We are so excited about the year ahead and the abundant opportunities it is already bringing as we work together to bring freedom and justice to girls and women around the world.

This year, we want YOU to experience our work in a new and personal way.

Here are 3 simple ways to engage in 2016:

#1: Experience Our Work From the Ground

This year, Freedom 4/24 is leading a trip to all three of our international partners in India, Uganda, and Thailand. These trips will connect team members with unforgettable experiences and relationships as they witness what is being done to fight sexual exploitation and trafficking in each country, as well as how the girls in each location are being rescued and restored.

  • India: In April, our team will connect with our partner, Freedom Firm, to host a camp for teenage survivors of exploitation and trafficking.
  • Uganda: In July, our team will spend time with the girls at Christine's House, who are finding freedom and restoration at this safe house.
  • Thailand: In December,the team will help throw Christmas parties for girls and women in the red light districts so they may learn about the permanent freedom offered at Beginnings, our partner in Bangkok.
Our India trip is now full but limited spots are open for Uganda and Thailand. To apply for a trip, email Emily@Freedom424.org.

#2: Use Creativity to Fundraise

The women you see in this photo are beaming as they graduate from Christine's House, our safe house in Uganda. This would not be possible without fundraising! Last semester, Liberty Christian Academy partnered with us to support Christine's House and raised more than $45,000! To accomplish this, students challenged each other, gave up Christmas presents, and more.

Fundraisers don't need to be BIG! Simply use your creativity or resources to help raise awareness and funds in any amount. Every dollar counts. Give your birthday or your graduation. Go without makeup. Run a race. Start today by emailing Emily@freedom424.org to set up your fundraiser!

#3: Run or Ride for Freedom

Along with the opportunity to fundraise, Run 4 Their Lives and Ride 4 Freedom give anyone a chance to get a little exercise while helping to raise awareness and funds for Freedom 4/24 and our domestic and international partners. We are offering these events all over the country, so sign up for one near you at Freedom424.org.

Inspiration to #EndIt

Bare 4 Freedom: A Make-Up Free Challenge

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web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

#11. Go Bare 4 Freedom with Makaila Redden

Age: 20         Hometown: Belfast, Maine

What is Bare 4 Freedom? How and why did it get started?

Bare 4 Freedom (B4F) is a social media movement to raise awareness about the human trafficking industry and raise funds to rescue the women and children enslaved by it. The idea is to go without makeup for a day, a week, or an entire month! It started when I was considering going lighter on my makeup during the first month of the new year to remind me that I am the daughter of the King and that I don't need makeup to feel confident or comfortable. I had been praying about Freedom 4/24's cause and had the idea that I could go without any makeup at all and raise awareness and funds at the same time!

What is your goal?

My financial goal is $300 in January, but I'm less concerned with that. The true goal behind B4F is two-fold: first, my prayer is that women and children trapped by this crime could be freed from the chains they are in (literally and figuratively) by the simple act of denying myself something as silly as makeup, and that they would come to know freedom in Christ. Second, I truly hope that more ladies will join in this vision, and that they will be more confident in the person God created them to be without having to hide behind a mask of makeup. Beauty comes from having Christ inside, it shouldn't be based upon how much mascara we're wearing!

How did you learn about Freedom 4/24?

My friend Abigail Lord oversaw the Run 4 Their Lives 5K in Bangor, Maine, last year and my husband and I ran it. We've been following the organization ever since! 

Bangor Race Vidya
Bangor Race Vidya

What about Freedom 4/24's mission resonates with you?

I think it's exciting that there is an organization out there providing resources beyond money to these human beings being exploited! It's more than just rescuing them, it's rehabilitating them and teaching them about a different life of freedom they can have. It's more than just raising money for the organization—it's about teaching people how to act against this.

What's your long-term vision for Bare 4 Freedom?

Let's take a stance together! I want this to be something women participate in every year to teach their community that sex trafficking happens everywhere, not just in rural countries. I believe we can really make a huge dent in the sex industry if we are educated and take a stand. I would love to see other ladies join with me in that.

Whether you want to commit to one day or the entire month, or even longer, we're excited to support you in what can be scary for some women to do! Tag Instagram, Twitter or Facebook photos with #bareforfreedom and check out our Instagram profile @bareforfreedom! When your friends and family ask where to donate, either create your own charity GoFundMe page for Freedom 4/24 or send them to gofundme.com/bare4freedom!

Pray for Thailand Team

The Thailand Team just before boarding the long flight from Dulles. And they're off! Please pray for the Thailand team as they are traveling now from Dulles to Bangkok. They will bring us stories from the ground, including highlights of the Christmas parties that will be thrown next week. During these parties, girls and women trapped in the red light districts will be offered a pathway to permanent freedom through our partner in Bangkok, Home of New Beginnings. Follow along right here!

News Anchor Rides for Freedom

If you were't able to make it out to Freedom 4/24's inaugural Ride 4 Freedom on October 10, check out his blog review below from cyclist and WSLS 10 news anchor John Carlin as he describes his first hand experience as a participant. A HUGE thank you to John for taking the time to share his view point on the event and to advocate for the work for Freedom 4/24!

John Carlin, center, rides into an aid station with fellow cyclists during Ride 4 Freedom
John Carlin, center, rides into an aid station with fellow cyclists during Ride 4 Freedom

A GREAT RIDE FOR AN EMERGING AND IMPORTANT CAUSE.

by John Carlin

Ride start
Ride start

Riders learn about the horrors of human trafficking.

 424 stands for the low price to buy a young girl being trafficked in Thailand and  surrounding countries. Translated, it means you can buy a young female sex slave For 24  hours for 24 dollars. A Lynchburg based non-profit called Freedom 4/24 is doing what it  can to stop it. Toward that end, the group has done a number of runs as fundraisers – and this past  weekend (October 10, 2015) – their first organized bike ride.

I joined other members of my usual riding group from both Roanoke and Lynchburg in support of the cause on the rolling 42.4 mile loop that started at the Blue Ridge Community Church.

“We didn’t know how far or how hard to make the ride,” said National Race Director Joy Marinelli at the ride’s rest stop. She said they talked about century rides and metric centuries and 50 milers but ultimately thought the group’s signature number worked well. Members of our group would agree.

Freedom 424 National Race Director Joy Marinelli offered a reminder of the cause at the halfway point in the ride.
Freedom 424 National Race Director Joy Marinelli offered a reminder of the cause at the halfway point in the ride.

Freedom 424 National Race Director Joy Marinelli offered a reminder of the cause at the halfway point in the ride.

The course was almost never flat. We were either descending or climbing. While there were no major mountain climbs – since there are no mountains in Virginia’s Piedmont region – there were several steep pitches that went on for about half a mile or so. Bottom line this is a ride that can be described as both moderate and challenging.

Rain threatened our ride almost from the beginning – but somehow it held off.

Though we were riding under gray – almost misty skies, it was a beautiful ride. This is a part of Virginia where the older homes are really old. And the small farms and beautiful houses made for great scenery.

Though it was their first attempt at a bike ride, the 4/24 folks have their act together.

A good percentage of the riders may have been unfamiliar with the cause. I suspect most of us were looking for a nice, organized ride in support of just about anything. (We are cyclists after all!) But the pre-ride talk was memorable, as we learned more about Freedom 4/24.

The leaders have traveled to Thailand and the surrounding areas and they have seen the human trafficking with their own eyes. They were motivated to begin the organization to fight the issue. They told us the story of two women who have been saved from the system after years of battling to get out – after being kidnapped as children and forced into prostitution when they were 12 or 13 years old.

Organizers asked us to recognize the struggles of young girls being trafficked in 3rd world counties.
Organizers asked us to recognize the struggles of young girls being trafficked in 3rd world counties.

Organizers asked us to recognize the struggles of young girls being trafficked in 3rd world counties.

The 4/24 group asked us to write their names on our arms as a show of support for their struggles. It seemed the least we could do.

A volunteer wrote the name Vaishnavi on my arm. Vaishnavi is an 18 year old from India who believes she was taken from her parents at an early age and forced into prostitution at 13. She was rescued several times by a group called Freedom Firm, only to be dragged back to the red light district. Finally, in 2013 she was rescued for good and today lives in government shelter, where she receives counseling, and is learning to live a more normal life.

As we stood with our bikes, ready to ride, Marinelli, and marketing director Johanna Calfee reminded us that while it might rain, and that the hills might pose some difficulty, that it paled in comparison to the struggles faced by Vaishnavi and others. Fair enough. Struggling up a hill in the rain on a bicycle that costs as much as a used car is truly a first world problem. There’s a good dose of perspective there.

Back to the ride

The rest stop at about 21 miles.
The rest stop at about 21 miles.

The rest stop at about 21 miles.

Organizers offered a lone rest stop at the halfway point. For a ride as short as this – a single stop is certainly adequate. The table was full of goodies, Gatorade, bananas and anything else you might want.

At one point Marinelli asked us if the course was hard enough. Though I’ve ridden a couple thousand miles this summer – I felt like there was ample challenge there. I could easily see how they could (and should) keep the signature distance and add a metric century or 50 mile option, and eventually a full century.

I can say for certain that I was pretty happy to see the finish. The 4/24 group offered a free lunch with what might be the best barbeque I have ever eaten. And that’s saying something – because I eat a LOT of barbeque. There were plenty of other treats, and a warm place to eat inside the church.

This event was essentially a test run for the organizers. There were only about 35 riders, but the hope is that this becomes a major fundraiser for the group.

I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t.

Two Babies & Their Teenage Mothers Saved

web_for24
web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

#9 & #10.MEET GRIFFY & PATIENCE

Griffy came to Christine’s House in July, 16 and pregnant. As a Freedom 4/24 rescue home for exploited girls in Gulu, Uganda, the staff at Christine’s House is used to taking in victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking who are pregnant as a result of their abuse. But Griffy is one of their youngest pregnant girls ever to arrive. She wasn't alone either. At the same time Griffy moved in, another pregnant teen from her village named Filder also arrived. When Griffy and Filder were first identified in their village by Aloysius Kyazze, founding director of Christine's House, both babies were in danger of being aborted.

He knew he had to get them to Christine’s House.

Christine's House in Gulu, Uganda.
Christine's House in Gulu, Uganda.

Now, Griffy and Filder are safe in a loving community environment. At Christine's House, they are learning a trade and receiving trauma counseling and medical services. Both girls have also been introduced to Jesus Christ and His healing love and hope.

Sewing
Sewing

Griffy and Filder are flourishing at Christine’s House. Griffy is learning the trade of baking and hopes to become a teacher one day. And she now has her first pupil! Her daughter Patience was born on September 20, a healthy 6.3-pound bundle of beauty. As baby Patience grows, the house now patiently awaits the arrival of Filder’s little one, who is due any day now.

Baby
Baby

Without Christine’s House, both Griffy and Filder would still be in exploitative situations and their babies may not be alive today. Christine’s House is fully funded each year through YOUR support of Freedom 4/24. A donation of any amount helps to provide a bright future to these girls who have survived so much.

Gift, at the far left, celebrates with the girls at Christine's House shortly after her arrival in July.
Gift, at the far left, celebrates with the girls at Christine's House shortly after her arrival in July.

For $116 a month, Christine’s House provides the following to the 42 girls who currently receive its services:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Medical care
  • Trauma counseling
  • Vocational training,
  • Social interaction
  • Faith and life skills training

Will you help to invest in the future of girls like Filder, Griffy, and babies like Patience? Begin today by giving a one-time gift or sign up to become a recurring donor.

How Giving of Time Gives Freedom

web_for24
web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

How can the simple act of volunteering bring freedom and do justice to victims and survivors of sex trafficking? Read on as our Administrative Assistant, Emily Worsham, explains the crucial connection based on her first-hand experience of transitioning from a volunteer college student to full-time freedom fighter.

Freedom424_2015_19 (1)
Freedom424_2015_19 (1)

#9.MEET EMILY WORSHAM

Administrative Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator, Freedom 4/24 

Emily, as our volunteer coordinator (among many other things), you are on the front lines of connecting people to the work we do to fight human trafficking. What would you like those who consider volunteering with Freedom 4/24 to know?

Volunteering with Freedom 4/24 is such a great opportunity not only to get a behind-the-scenes look at a nonprofit organization, but also to fight for the freedom and justice of victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Freedom 4/24 volunteers need to be flexible with their hours as well as the tasks they help with. You may be a graphic design volunteer, but we would love to have you at some of our events or helping with administrative tasks in the office.

You actually started as a "volunteer" of sorts when you interned in college before being offered a role on staff. How did the internship open your eyes to the work of Freedom 4/24?

I remember meeting with the former volunteer coordinator and being told that Freedom 4/24 does not work directly with victims of human trafficking. I love to “get my hands dirty” and have always desired to work on the front lines, so this initially discouraged me. However, I really needed an internship, so I figured I would give Freedom 4/24 a try. It wasn’t long before I truly fell in love with the work that this organization is doing.

I was able to see the way that ordinary people—stay at home moms, businessmen and women, even school children—could have a deep and lasting effect in the lives of trafficking survivors. These individuals gave up their time, money, and resources to fight alongside us for the cause of bringing freedom and doing justice for women and girls around the world. It was an experience I will never forget, and I am so thankful that the Lord chose me to have this experience.

Megan MacDougall (left) and Libby Bundrick volunteer at Frocks 4 Freedom.
Megan MacDougall (left) and Libby Bundrick volunteer at Frocks 4 Freedom.

What are our current greatest volunteer needs?

Freedom 4/24 really needs volunteers who are able to come into our office during normal business hours to help with administrative tasks. A few hours every week or every other week would be awesome. We also have needs that require specific technical knowledge such as web design and development, and graphic design. For those looking to give more than just a few hours here and there, we have needs in areas such as event administration and marketing/communications.

What characteristics do you look for in volunteers?

One of the most important characteristics I look for is a desire to work. You don’t have to be skilled (although that is a plus), but you should be willing to learn and try things that maybe aren’t as exciting as helping with a big event. I also look for individuals who are passionate about the cause and who stand behind us as an organization.

How do you believe our volunteers help to bring freedom and do justice to girls around the world who are victims or survivors of sexual exploitation?

I can say this with all certainty: Freedom 4/24 would not survive without our volunteers. When I correspond with potential volunteers, I work to be up-front and honest with them regarding the work that they will be expected to do. Things like data entry, sending emails, making phone calls, keeping the office clean and organized don’t seem like they are really making a difference in the fight for freedom. However, had it not have been for our hard-working and passionate volunteers, we would not have been able to help provide freedom for more than 347 women and children last year. Some of the smallest and most tedious tasks are the most important ones. Just because you are not on the front lines conducting raids and counseling victims does not mean that your work is unimportant.

Committed volunteer Tobey Thurston (right) slices up bananas to offer to Run 4 Their Lives Lynchburg participants.
Committed volunteer Tobey Thurston (right) slices up bananas to offer to Run 4 Their Lives Lynchburg participants.

Describe a positive volunteer experience.

Last year was a stressful year for me as I was finishing up my bachelor’s and starting a brand new job. There were many times when I wasn’t really sure what I had gotten myself into. Just when I needed her most, the Lord provided me with a passionate volunteer that I could always count on. There were many times when I would text or email her at the last minute and she almost always came through. She always has a positive attitude no matter what she is doing, and she has really encouraged me on some of my hardest days. She is one of my hardest working volunteers, even while she was working part-time and taking a full college class load. We are really going to miss her when she graduates!

How can someone become a volunteer?

To become a Freedom 4/24 volunteer, simply fill out the volunteer application to answer some basic questions about your interest and skills. After reviewing your application, I will be in touch regarding available positions.

Making a Difference at Any Age

web_for24 “For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.


 “Teaming up with Freedom 4/24 allowed us to support a local organization, learn more about this local and global epidemic, and become inspired by one young woman’s dream to make a difference.”

Anderson2

#8. MEET JENNY ANDERSON

Director of Global Studies; Chair of the World Language Department at Virginia Episcopal School (VES), Lynchburg, VA

This spring, Jenny and the student body at VES held a Global Symposium focused on human trafficking and supporting the work of Freedom 4/24. Watch the video below for a quick look at how Freedom 4/24 played a leading role, then read on as Jenny explains in her own words how it inspired students and faculty alike to make a difference at any age.

[embed]http://youtu.be/es3eKkli8J8[/embed]

Jenny, the student body at VES recently raised $1,000 for Freedom 4/24. How did you become connected to us?

This entire endeavor was only possible through student interest. VES Junior, Emma Smiley is passionate about the issue of human trafficking. She came to me asking if there was something we could do to bring about awareness to the VES community. I wanted to choose a local grassroots organization that has high impact and is sustainable. Freedom 4/24 was the logical choice as I had heard about its far-reaching influence, the Run 4 Their Lives events, and the fact that it was borne from a student and her compassion and drive to make a difference.

Class1

How did you lead and inspire your students to give back?

On April 11, the VES community held its first Global Symposium with the focus on Modern Day Slavery [see video above]. Our goal was to shed light on the estimated 27 million slaves in the world today and to help students become aware of the horrors of human trafficking while understanding that there are ways that they can help to alleviate it.

Students spent time throughout the week learning about the injustice that millions endure as they face forced labor, sexual exploitation, violence, and oppression. The curriculum that we put into place effectively engaged students in these difficult topics and asked them to systematically learn, then act, then reflect in very intentional ways. The content of these units explored many sensitive topics, such as prostitution, gender-based violence, child soldiers, and slavery. Although the topics weighed heavy on our hearts, we believe that it is important to expand the four walls of our classrooms, empathize, and begin to understand the difficult reality of many people all around the world, including many right here in Virginia.

How did the student body go about raising money for Freedom 4/24?

We had a t-shirt drive and a day where students could buy eggs and water balloons to aim at the administration. Needless to say, the students had a lot of fun while knowing that their money was going to a great cause.

Student 1

What about Freedom 4/24 and the work to fight human trafficking resonates with you? 

The work to fight human trafficking resonates with me because it is an astonishing fact that there exists in the world today more slaves than at any other point in our history. If we are even a bit appalled by our country’s association with slavery of the past, then it is impossible to ignore the immense injustice that continues today.

The work of Freedom 4/24 most resonates with me because it is 1) a local organization; 2) very little overhead; and 3) Freedom 4/24 was started by a young woman who wanted to make a difference.  She is an inspiration to all of our students to know that, at any age, they can do something to help alleviate injustice.

What was the outcome of the Symposium on your students? 

Our final exercise of the afternoon was to sit together and reflect upon what we learned and why we should care. It was emotional to see the number of hands go in the air, the voices that spoke up, and the students that were changed as a result. We were able to visibly see how VES students were able to learn, become aware, envision solutions, and put their voices to action in a very thoughtful and intentional manner.

It was even more powerful because this awareness campaign originated from one of our own students, again demonstrating how the power and passion of one can have a ripple effect on others. One voice can make a difference, but to encourage an entire group of youth to become aware and learn how to make a difference was even more powerful. Most importantly, in the end, my students inspired me.

 

The Arbor: A Healing Refuge for U.S. Trafficking Victims

web_for24
web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

Joanna Jennings
Joanna Jennings

#7.MEET JOANNA JENNINGS

Executive Director at The Arbor, Charlottesville, VA

Did you know that Freedom 4/24 has a dozen domestic partnerships in the U.S.? In May of this year, our Run 4 Their Lives event teamed with one of those partners, The Arbor in Charlottesville, VA, to raise funds and awareness to fight trafficking right here in our backyard.

We recently met with Joanna Jennings, the executive director of The Arbor to talk about the life-changing, restorative work being done there. The Arbor is a newly-opened safe house for adult women who are victims of human trafficking.  Joanna is passionate about providing a place for victims of human trafficking in Central Virginia. Not only is she driven to end human trafficking, she’s also driven to provide a holistic recovery process for victims. Here, in her own words, she explains the vital work being done at The Arbor. 

Thearbor17
Thearbor17

Joanna, tell us about how you became connected to the issue of human trafficking and how it led to the opening of The Arbor? 

While I was in NYC working on a master’s degree in social work and working directly with victims of sex trafficking, I became involved with a group of Christians in Charlottesville who wanted to start a similar safe house. After moving to Charlottesville in 2012 I joined the group, which eventually became the board of The Arbor. I was hired on as the Executive Director in June 2014.

What is the mission of The Arbor?

The Arbor provides safe housing and holistic aftercare to victims of human trafficking in Virginia, so they may experience wholeness, freedom, and life. Since opening in January 2015, The Arbor has housed five residents. Capacity is seven. Women typically stay between 1.5 and 2 years.

The Arbor heads women into a direction of recovery with help from case managers, attorneys, trauma-focused counselors, and medical professionals. The women in the Arbor are required to meet with people regularly to heal from trauma and start a life for themselves. Partnerships with local businesses in the area are developing to provide internships and jobs for the women as they prepare to leave the safe house and live on their own.

How do women coming out of trafficking scenarios get connected to The Arbor?

Referrals happen a number of ways—through law enforcement, social services agencies (domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, community service boards), and through victim self identification. Legally, these women have to come to The Arbor on their own terms. They are required to go through an application and screening process for the program.

Thearbor1
Thearbor1

What does aftercare looks like?

In addition to free room and board, each resident receives comprehensive case management so that she may be connected to existing resources in the community for various components of our aftercare program. This includes medical and dental needs, counseling, legal assistance, and education and job skills training.

How does The Arbor work to transition them back into the outside world?

Each resident is provided with opportunities to receive education and job skills training so that she will leave The Arbor’s program with employment. Each woman is different and forges her own different path toward healing, and we work to honor that each person’s path may look different.

What was the impact of Run 4 Their Lives for The Arbor?

This year’s race was the first race since our safe house officially opened, and the addition of more runners from the previous years also helped maximize impact in terms of awareness. The Point Church also did an amazing job hosting the race, and we’re hopeful that partnership will continue.

Give an example of life-change and healing from a woman who lives at The Arbor.

"I know I have inside me the strength to succeed. But every time I tried to make a new start, I had to live with people who were bad influences and I ended up going back to the life. But this place is so peaceful and homey and when I'm here I really feel like I could make a new life." –An Arbor safe house resident

A Baby at 14, but Gloria has Hope

web_for24 “For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

#6. MEET GLORIA

Gloria_Freedom424_1

Last month on social media, we introduced you to 14-year-old Gloria. At the time, she was awaiting the birth of her child and finding hope and restoration at Christine's House. Recently, three advocates for Freedom 4/24 and Sports Outreach Institute traveled to Uganda to develop small business opportunities for the girls of Christine's House. There, they spent time with Gloria and her new baby. Read below as one of the advocates on the trip, Adrian Parker, gives fresh insight into Gloria's heartbreaking and remarkable journey.

"Gloria's soft strength and stillness is no indication of her story. She had her son a week ago by Cesarean section because she is only 14. The baby's father is a child rapist who abducted Gloria and assaulted her while she was walking home. He has yet to be found. He stole her childhood but she is God's child and He holds her future. Gloria and her family welcome the baby boy, nicknamed Aloysius after the respected, Godly leader there.

Gloria_Freedom424

Gloria is determined to finish school and make a future for herself. She lives at Christine's House, a Freedom 4/24 built and supported program that rescues and restores the abused girls of Uganda. There are almost 30 of them there now, with three more added in just the last week alone. They are strong beyond belief, with bright smiles a faith that surpasses their age. I love these girls. Gloria wants to share her story and thank everyone for their support."

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Gloria's fresh start at Christine's House is a result of your monthly support. Would you consider supporting Gloria and the other girls at the house with tragically similar stories by becoming a recurring giver? As little as $24/month helps feed, educate, provide restorative counseling and teach a trade to these remarkable young women. To give today, visit Freedom424.org/give.

Heading Home

Today, Tim and Mitchell's time in India comes to a close. The footage they gathered there will be presented in a video at our 2nd annual Freedom Gala on November 5. What incredible stories they have to share from many rescued women who are free today because of the work of our partner, Freedom Firm. As they prepare to head home, here are Tim's thoughts on the future of human trafficking in India: Mumbai Gate

It’s hard to believe we’re heading home today but soon, we will hop in a rickshaw and head to the airport to catch our flight home. As we leave India behind, I am encouraged. While there is certainly a lot of work to be done before child sex trafficking here is ended, progress is being made.

There are those who say things will never change but this is simply not true. I cannot say when sex trafficking of minors will no longer be a problem in India but I am certain that day will come. Why? Because of the selfless men and women at Freedom Firm who care deeply about rescuing and restoring young girls from a life of slavery in a brothel.

These dedicated men and women pour their lives into this work. They crisscross the country on long overnight train rides to remote villages to follow up with rescued girls. They work long hours for days on end to see that freedom comes to those who need it most. They sacrifice time with their families—sometimes for days and weeks at a time—to ensure that girls whose families have abandoned them are safe.

I wish I could show you each and every one of their pictures, tell you their names, and throw a parade in honor of the work they do. But in order for them to do this difficult work, their identity must remain hidden. Showing their faces and telling their stories could compromise their ability to continue bringing rescue, restoration, and justice. 

If you met them though, you would quickly understand that no recognition is required. Their greatest passion and lasting reward is in the outcome—when one more day of investigation, one more night of footage, one more raid and one more prosecution means one more girl is free and on the path to restoration.

For those at Freedom Firm, and for us at Freedom 4/24, there is truly no greater reward.  

 

 

 

Mira's Story: Sold at 2, Rescued at 14, Hopeful at 18

   

web_for24

“For 24,” is a year-long campaign telling the story of Freedom 4/24—from the survivors, world-changers, and volunteers to fundraisers, and behind-the-sceners. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and enrich your understanding of Freedom 4/24 and the work we do together.

 

#5. MEET MIRA 

Mira

Mira is a trafficking survivor rescued by Freedom Firm out of Ganga Jamuna, Nagpur’s red light area.

Mira’s story is horrifically tragic. As best as she can recollect, Mira was sold by her family at 2 years old. Within a few years, she was being sold for sex and up until she was rescued in 2011 at the age of 14, it was the only life she’d ever known.

Meeting Mira, you’d never have a clue about her past. She is a vibrant young woman who is thriving. Right now she’s in high school and has high hopes for her future. When she fears that her traffickers might find her and take her back to the brothels, she said she prays and finds comfort in knowing that Jesus is with her and will protect her no matter what her circumstances.

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For every “Mira” there are many girls who are not rescued and who do not have hope. This is why we continue to fight and ask you to join with us. Freedom isn't free. The work of Freedom 4/24 and the partners we support is made possible through your generosity. If you would like to give today or on a recurring basis, please visit www.Freedom424.org/give.