“What if we gave the average woman the opportunity to partner with women who have been rescued from human trafficking?” This idea drove Pastor Dave Terpstra to move his family to Mozambique, an epicenter of sex trafficking, where the majority of “prostitutes” are children. Knowing he was limited in his ability to “rescue” victims of human trafficking, Terpstra focused his attention on helping survivors rebuild their lives. Since the majority of women are sold into the sex slave industry as children, survivors typically have little to no education and work skills. But what if they could sell something? Used clothing is a major source of revenue in Mozambique, which got Terpstra thinking–what if these women could sell a commodity only women wanted to purchase? It would ensure their safety from being sold back into the industry, and it would allow them to heal and rebuild their lives around other women. The solution? Bras! While you and I likely have a drawer full of forgotten bras, in Mozambique, they are a luxury item that can bring in significant revenue.
In August 2010, Terpstra parterned with Kimba Langas, a stay-at-home mom from his previous church, and together, they launched a movement called “Free the Girls.” They created a simple Facebook page, hoping to collect a few hundred or thousand gently used bras per year. In less than three years, Free the Girls has collected over 80,000 bras. Women in the program receive an initial inventory for free, and can buy more bras at a greatly reduced cost (which goes toward shipping fees). Results are showing that women are making 3-5x minimum wage simply by selling bras! Can you imagine it? Your old bras liberating a victim of human trafficking? Allowing another woman to provide a better life for her children–to protect them from becoming victims? It blows my mind. In 2011 Free the Girls partnered with Project Purpose, a shelter for rescuing and rehabilitating female victims of human trafficking. This year they hope to launch their program in four new locations. View the incredible journey (covered by CNN) below.
How can you get involved? Free the Girls accepts all new and gently used bras, including nursing bras and sport bras. You can host an event to collect bras, become a drop-off center, find a drop-off center near you, or mail your gently-used bras directly to Free the Girls. You can also donate money or resources. (New City Church Women–Emily Mantooth will be collecting donations this Sunday!!) You don’t have to be a woman of great influence to start something. That’s the beautiful genius of the movement. Any high school girl with a couple of used bras and a handful of friends can wage war with an industry as evil as Satan himself. So what are you waiting for? Start digging through that drawer! It’s never been easier to be a light for Christ in a very dark place.