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.

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