Did you know that South Africa is one of the many countries globally that is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking? With 27 million people estimated to be in modern day slavery today, more than 50% of these victims are from Africa. Not only is this statistic a harsh reality, 80% of these victims are girls aged between 5 to 15 years of age. As a mother, this statistic shocked me and it should certainly shock you.
MOST of these victims will live and die in the sex trade, unless they are RESCUED…
I know a guy called Phil Bowyer, who left my church 7 years ago to work in South Africa. In 2013, he returned to my church in Stoke on Trent to talk about some amazing people he had met who were campaigning against human trafficking and who had managed to get a little “production unit” going making jewellery in Durban. It started with a few people with a passion for the issue. Then came someone to do the social work and medical care. Then came someone else who gave them space for a workshop. The result of all these people connecting up was a working production unit of survivors of human trafficking working together to make jewellery from fallen bark. They were selling their small range of jewellery in South Africa. The thing is, for the women to be truly free from their life of prostitution and slavery, they needed an alternative source of income. Social and medical care is absolutely vital but it can only take them so far. They need money to live, plain and simple.
Phil wondered who might be the next piece of the story. I instinctively knew that would be us; Little Trove. Phil had no idea I ran this fair trade business. He thought I was still a lawyer!
The timing was not right though. We weren’t wholesaling our stock, so I wasn’t sure how much we could help. However in 2014, as we expanded into wholesale I decided it was time to help them. By “them”, I mean the survivors of human trafficking and the people behind the project; the Red Light Initiative.
In November 2014, Red Light was more than happy to appoint Little Trove as their exclusive distributors in the UK, to help expand their sales and open up opportunities for more women to be “rescued” and involved in the jewellery making.
Red Light’s project is called the Create Freedom Project and its main aim is to empower women at risk and survivors to live sustainable lives and to see restoration of dignity and destiny. Red Light teaches sustainable skills and empowers women individually through entrepreneurship and other training. While Red Light do the medical and social work, Little Trove works on importing their handicrafts to generate much needed sales income for the trafficking survivors. We’ve also worked with Red Light to make improvements to their products. We hope to work with them to build more capacity and expand their product offering. The more products we can distribute to shops or sell to the public, the more orders we can put through to the project. The more orders they have, the more workers they will need.
I’m excited that this weekend 11 January 2015 is the launch of this range at our first trade show of 2015; Giving & Living Fair, Exeter. I cannot wait to see the response to the project. All products are available to buy here: http://www.littletrove.com/product-category/fashion/jewellery/
I’m also making arrangements to go to Durban in June 2015 to visit these courageous women.
I hope as you read the testimony below, you will consider how you can also be a part of this story:
“One of the ladies from Red Light took me to a place where they were making jewelry and told me I could come every Monday to learn and make jewelry which Red Light would sell and pay me a salary. And that was the beginning. Red Light is helping come out of this business… Every week I go to Red Light and learn more about life and about the skills I need. My dream is to become a paramedic and Red Light is helping me find out more about that. I now have a part-time job and next year I am going to do my grade 12. I always wanted to finish school but there was nobody to help me. Now I have the help I need to change my life and give my daughter a better future.” Thandi, survivor
Come join the Little Trove movement!