At Starfish Project, we help exploited women do three things: experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers. Today we want to share more about what it means for exploited women to experience freedom.
We want every woman at Starfish Project to experience freedom both physically and emotionally. For women who are being trafficked or exploited, the first step is physical freedom, and that means getting them out of the brothel where they live and work.
Starfish Project has Outreach Teams that faithfully go out into the brothels every week with one goal: building relationships with the women who live there. Outreach teams build relationships by bringing small gifts, exchanging phone numbers, and taking women out to meals. As we form relationships with women in the shops, we invite them to come work and live at Starfish Project.
Many people ask why they would stay in the shops if they have another option. There can be a lot of reasons they might stay in those circumstances. Often times, they are coming from hundreds of miles away and don’t know anyone else in the city. They may not be able to read or write. They may be afraid that their circumstances could become even worse. It typically takes our Outreach Teams several weeks or months to build a good relationship with a woman. Once she decides to leave, we are delighted to welcome her to the Starfish Project family!
Women in the red light district live and work in the same building, often sharing a bedroom with four or five other women. When a woman decides to join Starfish Project, she moves into our shelter where she lives in a safe, clean, familial community. Physical safety is the first step to her rehabilitation.
Every woman begins her job on the production team and makes jewelry with her hands everyday.
All the women work side by side for the full work day. If you visit our office, you might not even know who was formerly exploited and who was on staff, because everybody is working together! At Starfish Project, every woman can work through her emotional wounds as she lives and works.
Every person who works at Starfish Project has the option to pursue counseling, and almost everyone chooses to go to counseling. When the women see one another become more emotionally stable after going to counseling, they are often more willing to try it themselves.
What each person at Starfish Project discusses most in counseling is not necessarily their trauma from working in a brothel. Many of them are even more wounded by experiences from their childhood and families of origin. Counseling and community support help them experience freedom from their trauma and shame.
At Starfish Project, we are so grateful that we get to see women experience freedom. It is the biggest thrill when a woman says, “Yes, I want to join Starfish Project!”
In order for our Outreach Teams to offer women a job, Starfish Project has to have enough jewelry orders to employ them. That’s why your jewelry purchases make such a big difference. Your orders make it possible for the Outreach Team to extend the invitation to exploited women to experience freedom.
Each of these pieces of jewelry helps us reach out to more women still living in brothels. Thank you for being part of their Stories of Hope.