Human Trafficking. It’s a horrible system you may have heard about on your favorite crime show or in movies like Taken, but how much do you really know about it? Rescue Freedom International tells us “Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, with nearly 27 million victims. It generates an estimated $31 billion each year, most of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation.” You may not realize that although trafficking especially plagues developing countries, both labor and sex trafficking occur all over the U.S.—even in our home state, South Carolina. Recently, a North Charleston man was arrested for trafficking women and children to Florida.
This issue has been on Liz Glover’s heart since 2007 when she saw a startling news segment about this criminal industry. She began to research ways by which she could help human trafficking victims when she discovered an organization that holistically approached the issue of human trafficking—providing not only safe escape from the industry for victims, but also rehabilitating these women by teaching them the skills they need to lead sustainable lives. After contacting that organization and sharing her interest in design and willingness to teach girls how to sew, she was invited to travel with the organization to India, nearly 8,450 miles from her home in South Carolina. After setting up shop to train some of the women how to read and use patterns to make clothes and accessories, the organization encouraged Liz and her fellow volunteers to visit a Red Light district in India.
The group walked into the district without even realizing they had arrived. Liz looked around and saw a crowded, bustling cityscape—she asked the guide where the district was, and they told her she was already there. Every alley and building in sight was part of the district; every woman in sight was a prostitute. For every two square miles of the district, there were 100,000 enslaved women, even more than that if you considered their children who will most likely be slaves in the future. Many windows were barred; Liz’s tour guide explained those windows were called “cages.” That is where the captors use scorpions, cobras, drugs, or physical abuse to condition the girls into their new life in captivity.
Liz’s volunteer group was despondent over what they had seen, but Liz knew she wasn’t sent on the trip just to see. She was compelled to create a solution.
When Liz returned to the U.S., she founded the Jubilee Market and later the Freedom Café. She started the Jubilee Market not only to raise money for survivors, but also to provide them with new and sustainable skills by teaching them how to create the beautiful hand-made items you can find for sale both online at www.thejubileemarket.com and at the Freedom Café (1551 Remount Road, North Charleston, SC 29406).
The Jubilee Market has been working toward the goal of rescuing and restoring the lives of these formerly trafficked or at-risk women since 2008 through the sale of products like clothing, jewelry, and accessories that are made by survivors. Sales from the recently opened Freedom Café also contribute to the same mission. At the Jubilee Market and Café you can pick up a coffee, have lunch, and browse the store for beautiful hand-crafted clothing and jewelry while allowing survivors of human trafficking and at-risk individuals to work with dignity and respect.
Finding a Partner in Your Backyard
One of the joys of working at Custom Development Solutions is that through our work we are able to aid organizations of all missions and sizes that are working to improve the world we live in. It is especially exciting for the CDS team to be able to create synergy between two nonprofits. The Jubilee Market has recently begun a partnership with JumpStart Prison Ministry—a Christian ministry dedicated to restoring the lives of former offenders. CDS President David Phillips had seen the good work Liz has been doing through the Jubilee Market and had also been working with JumpStart for nearly two years. He saw a natural partnership between these two organizations, as both serve missions that are “putting work boots on our Christian faith.” Both JumpStart and the Jubilee Market are mission-driven organizations that help people who are subject to a system that is working against them to do better for themselves. The men enrolled in JumpStart’s program have begun creating hand-made items to benefit the Jubilee Market and the victims they serve. They are granted a sense of fulfillment not only because they are helping others, but because some men in JumpStart’s program committed offenses similar to the ones perpetuated upon the women the Jubilee Market serves. The Jubilee Market is happy to share their stories and spread hope to the JumpStart participants, because they know that by spreading light, they may be stopping future traffickers and ending the vicious cycle of violence and bondage.
Slavery can exist almost anywhere in the world, and unfortunately, it does. Because of the underground nature of this criminal industry, many women and children around the world are also enslaved into human trafficking without anyone even knowing. Victims of human trafficking are lured in by false promises of a job, education, and stability; they are particularly susceptible to the industry because they are impoverished and have no other way to sustain themselves or their families. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and innocent lives are in danger every day because of this issue. People become exploited, beaten, hurt, impoverished, and forced into labor with no hope of a better future. Every life matters; human trafficking victims deserve to be freed so that God might use them for his purpose.
Both the Jubilee Market and Freedom Café exist to restore and empower women who may be in bondage or are at risk of being trafficked. As they say at the Jubilee Market, “each one matters”. Human trafficking victims need your help. The best way for you to help them is by frequenting the Freedom Café with your friends. You will get great food, maybe some tea or coffee, and a real sense of fulfillment. Next time you cannot decide where to head for a bite to eat, check out the Freedom Café at 1551 Remount Road and find out how great it tastes to help an organization make a difference.