Located in southeastern Africa, Mozambique is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. Traffickers deceive girls migrating to Mozambique by promising education and employment opportunities to coerce them into sex trafficking. As a result, women are exposed to drugs, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and violence. Free the Girls is one of many organizations fights sex trafficking in Mozambique.
About Free the Girls
Dave Terpstra, a priest at Duneland Community Church in Denver, and Kimba Langas, a church member, co-founded Free The Girls. This international nonprofit aims to help victims of sex trafficking by collecting bra donations. Originally starting as a Facebook page, Free The Girls quickly gained popularity and success.
Every six weeks volunteers gather at Duneland Community Church or “The Bra Church.” This is where they sort new and gently used bras and send them to Mozambique. Upon receiving these donations, survivors can start their own businesses selling bras at local second-hand clothing markets while they recover and build a new life.
Free the Girls fights sex trafficking in Mozambique by creating a pathway to economic freedom, restored health, social well being, education and opportunity for a more hopeful future.
In 2015, volunteers packed 833 boxes containing 166,600 bras and shipped 769 boxes overseas containing 153,800 bras. Donations to correction facilities, domestic violence shelters and trafficking shelters totaled approximately 2,000 bras. In addition, the organization reached 23,400 supporters on social media. Through the help of the program, nine women bought land, three women bought or rented a house and one woman enrolled in university.
In 2016, donations totaled 183,000 bras, volunteers sent out 685 boxes and 59 boxes of bras went to women’s correctional facilities, shelters and pregnancy assistance centers. Likewise, Free the Girls gained 27,040 social media supporters. Most importantly, 13 women graduated from the program, seven pursued educational opportunities and four built a home or purchased land.
Selling bras has tremendously impacted the lives of women in Mozambique. It provides the opportunity for women to become financially and spiritually independent. Free the Girls has launched an empowering approach for women to reintegrate into society and take control of their futures.
– Merna Ibrahim