Freedom Stones

One of the major underlying causes of human trafficking is poverty. Since 2005, Leah Knippel, founder of Freedom Stones, has been fighting human trafficking through income generation projects aimed at not only providing financially for vulnerable women and their children, but also at empowering women through holistic training and skills development.

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

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.
Fra-Fra basketweavers
© 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
Ayimbono is one of the original 75 members of the cooperative. When the Collective began working with her in 2005, they interviewed her and learned how difficult life could be as a young widow with five children in the poverty-stricken north of Ghana. Her main source of income since her husband died in 1998 has been basket weaving, but the low local prices available in the market place made it impossible to adequately provide for her family with her skill and hard work. They often went hungry.

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.”
                © Ojoba Collective
Strong and sturdy, the baskets are perfect for shopping at the farmer's market, or holding household goods like socks, toys, and newspapers. Each basket is unique, highlighting the individual personality of the weaver who crafted it. The sales of these baskets provide a source of empowerment for the women and a dignified way for them to support their children.

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.


We couldn't make it through Artreach without Makarios. Their fresh roasted, direct trade, organic coffee (sold through Dominican Joe) keeps us going all day long. But what makes their coffee even richer is the story behind the brew.

Wilner in 2009.
Makarios is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educational development in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and other impoverished areas of the world. Founded by Executive Director Sharla Megilligan in the spring of 2004, Makarios' initial projects improved educational opportunities in Haitian villages, called bateyes, on the Dominican Republic's north coast. 

The sale of Dominican Joe coffee helps fund the Makarios school and improves the lives of kids like Wilner. Wilner is around 3 years old and is an AIDS orphan from Chichigua (one of the bateyes Makarios works in). When he was about a year old, his mother died. The Makarios staff would often see him wandering around the village dirty, naked and alone. He didn't smile and although they were told he was fed and taken in each night by someone from the village, it was heartbreaking to see someone so small and so sad trying to get through each day on his own. 

Wilner, happier and healthier at age 3.

Makarios staff decided to check on him regularly and make sure he had clothes and was being cared for, and Maria, a woman from Chichigua, took him in as a son. Last year Makarios took him to the doctor for a checkup and found out he's HIV positive, which would help explain the skin problems and other physical issues he was having. They now take him to the free local AIDS clinic regularly for treatments and he is responding beautifully. He laughs often, loves to play with anyone who will take the time, and is constantly on the move. This year is his first at the Makarios school. The staff of Makarios has a prayer for Wilner. They pray that God, the Father to all orphans, raises Wilner up as a young man with a heart like His own.

You can support the educational, physical and spiritual development of Wilner and other children like him by visiting the Makarios table at Artreach this November 12. For more information, visit