One of the lives touched by the work of Freedom Stones is Pui (name changed for privacy). She began working in Pattaya, Thailand as a prostitute when she was 12 years old. Abused by her mother, she ran away from her house in the slums and ended up in a sexual relationship with a foreigner around 13 years of age. Her father convinced her to move home. However, her mother took the opportunity to tie her up, beat her and then literally rub salt in the wounds she had created. Her father then found a man for her to marry, but he beat her as well. She left him right before she discovered that she was pregnant with his child at the age of 15.
She want back to working as a prostitute in Pattaya. While working there, an 80 year old foreigner paid her particular attention. Eventually he noticed she was pregnant and gave her money for the baby. With this money her mother now accepted her back. After the birth of her baby, Pui worked as a water carrier, carrying water from the well to different homes in the slums and she also worked in the bars. After another 8 years, Pui still worked in the bars and lived with a man from Germany. After a few months he went home, Pui realized she was pregnant again, this time with a baby girl.
One day Pui was with her father at home and he died suddenly. Pui cried every day for 3 years straight. Soon after that, Pui met some Christians and became interested in God. She became a Christian and began attending church regularly.
Pui is now 34 years old and has another son who is 3 years old. Her older son cannot work because he had an accident that damaged his hip and leg. Her daughter now lives with a Christian family in Trat. Before the accident and before Pui came to her oldest son was also engaged in prostitution, but is now safe and being card for.
Pui has been working with Freedom Stones for over two years. She is the Quality Checking Manager and she also represents the other artisans on the Freedom Stones planning group. She is very warm, strong-willed and friendly person. She says working with Freedom Stones is a big help. She can now buy food to eat. Her youngest son goes to a local pre-school. In the future, she would like to have her own house so she doesn’t have to move around when landowners tell her she needs to move on. She would also like to work with computers and continue her education. If you would like to support Pui and other women in Thailand, Ghana and Cambodia who building new lives free of sexual slavery, come visit Freedom Stones at Artreach this year on November 12.
Ethical City partners with faith-based organizations in Austin to host fair trade global bazaars. Ethical City is owned and operated by Jennifer Lucas, the queen of all collaborators and a champion for fair trade in Austin. Ethical City's products include jewelry from India and Afghanistan, metal work from Haiti, and gift cards made by orphans in Rwanda.
© Ojoba Collective
One of her most popular products are colorful baskets made by widows in Ghana. The Fra-Fra people of northern Ghana live in a very dry area with little means of sustenance. The culture is polygamous, so when one man dies, he leaves behind many wives and children with no way to support themselves. Basket weaving has long been a part of the culture, but pervasive poverty makes it nearly impossible for women to earn a living wage from weaving. To address this issue, the Ojoba Collective started a widow's weaving cooperative in 2005 which now works with more than 400 women in three villages, and finds markets for these beautiful baskets.
|© Ojoba Collective|
But things have been improving since joining the weaving cooperative. They met with her again on their last trip, and she reports that having the steady work, long-term business partnership, and good prices for her baskets have made a huge impact on her life. As she says, “now I realize that I can stand on my own two feet. Even without a husband I can earn enough money for food and school fees. We don’t have to struggle as much now.”
Shop at Ethical City at Artreach November 12 to enjoy the beautiful handiwork of women like Ayimbono and support sustainable, equitable development in communities around the globe.