Unfamiliar landscapes jut out from the concrete and tower into the sky. The city, often rife with possibility, has become a dead end for thousands of young women sent to seek their fortune on behalf of their families.
From rural, destitute areas, children’s bellies howl with emptiness, eyes vacant of hope. Little or no education can suffocate employment opportunities, and no income means no food. No food means no provision, and shame takes over. With absolutely no other outlet, elder family members will send their daughters to find a solution, or mothers will leave their little ones behind to seek the city to fight their destitution.
Eyes agog with fear of the unfamiliar, she sifts her way through streets, hearing whispers of work rumor around corners. But with no job skills, she finds herself wandering to areas God never intended her to go. Lost in the bustling, loud environment of a strange city, knowing no one, she falls prey to the sex trade, dark and nefarious evil that entices her with the promise of money until she’s trapped in a never-ending cycling of giving herself to strangers.
When you are told long enough that you’re worthless and will never amount to anything, it begins to distort into a twisted truth, and the lens you see yourself becomes dingy and cracked.
What does it matter what I do to my body as long as I can put food on the table? she thinks. I’m just a commodity.
Oh, she is so much more.
Day after day, a longing to escape battles within. Ladies are strapped to this service, the only possible means to make a living. In order to get them out of the sex industry, income must be replaced.
Freegrance helps women vulnerable to human trafficking start businesses and bring their products to market in the United States. Their current venture is handmade jewelry and soap, trades being taught to women in Southeast Asia. Many of these women come from the sex industry, selling themselves for someone else’s profit, sending what little remained as their pay back home.
For the past twelve years, Patrick and Barbara Hubbard of Living Bread Ministries have been committed to comprehensive church planting among the global poor, investing in projects to teach people job skills and equip them with the long term dream of creating a sustainable lifestyle to support themselves and their families. They’ve seen firsthand the havoc poverty and desperation wreaks, not only physically, but psyche and soul.
“They think materially, see what they don’t have,” Barbara said. “They don’t get a glimpse of the individual self, the value in humanity, and garner their self-worth in what they make. If there is nothing that puts food on the table, they have nothing to offer.”
Forty percent of all profits go to accomplishing the goal of empowering women and giving them a sustainable and freeing option of their work instead of selling themselves.
“As a woman and a mom, to be helpers and unable to provide, not give your kids basic needs—I can’t imagine rocking my crying baby, my five-year-old daughter crying in hunger and there is nothing I can do about it,” she said.
Soap is a natural and consumable product that everyone sees and uses, at an accessible price that competes in today’s market.
Each bar made by the women is imprinted with signature of its creator, proud and bold swoops of black felt pen, bringing to life the heart of a woman half a world away.
It’s not just job skills unfolding for these women, but a swell of chest that emboldens women to make a difference, to lift their eyes full of pride and hope that they can overcome their circumstances and lies they’ve battled for years.
Women want to be empowered, and they find joy and worth in knowing they are part of making a difference in society, in the lives of others.
“Freegrance gives them self-worth,” said Barbara, “confidence in not only their ability to learn a skill and apply it for income, but as a woman, sustaining herself and her family.”
The journey is just beginning, and a large portion of the path is sharing God’s love that resonates and sticks in their soul. This is a foreign concept, as all they’ve experienced is desperation and detachment, seeing their body as a commodity instead of a treasure. These women, like us all, need to know they are beloved in the eyes of Christ, let it sink into their soul and believe in their immeasurable value.
Each crafted soap and earring purchased brings validation to a heart that’s been longing to belong.
And that, Barbara illuminates, is exactly where Freegrance fuses with its heart purpose. “If I can help one woman to keep her from selling herself for one plate of food, it’s worth it.”
Buying a bar of soap changes a life. To invest in the worth of woman taking a step of faith to find a place in this world, please visit freegrance.com and browse products created with care.
***Want 10% off your order? Enter code SRennicke10 at checkout as a thank you for supporting this project!
Photos courtesy of 90Marketing and Freegrance