If you were African and you had a family or group of friends of 10, less than 3 of you could read this post. In 21 countries around the world the literacy rate is below 50%. The inability to read is unfathomable to most of us as books were just as integral to our upbringing as eating was. While the inability to read and write may seem like an unrealistic inconvenience for most of us in developed, high income countries, for many people it is a matter of life and death.
Poverty plays the largest role in whether or not someone is literate. Half of the people in this world, nearly 3 billion people, live on less that $2 a day. Most of us spend more than that each morning for coffee. The cycle of poverty is difficult to break as being poor generally means that your children do not go to school both because you can not afford to send them and because you need them to help support the family.
The combination of poverty and illiteracy lead to desperation. The desperation of communities leads to unthinkable efforts to make an income even if it is at the expense of another. Human trafficking and the sex trade are businesses running rampant in areas devastated by poverty. In just a few square miles in India, 10,000 women stand in line to sell their bodies. The women are trafficked from all over India. While some women are taken without their will and put into sex trade, others are sold by their own families, and some women go willingly in hopes that they will be able to provide for their children. However because they are illiterate they have no way of knowing that once they go in, they do not get to come back out.
When Kerry and Annie Hilton moved to India from New Zealand, they had no idea that their new apartment was in the center of the human trafficking mecca. They determined that the solution for these women was a new way of doing business. They wanted to create a business that was sustainable and brought dignity instead of shame. They started a company called Freeset which taught women to sew and then their products would be sold globally. It was a Freeset bag that changed the life of another women in America.
Here is Karyn’s Story:
A couple of years ago I was ordering Christmas presents for my kiddos online and received a promotional item with one of my orders, which was a Freeset bag. I fell in love with the bag which had a tag on it revealing that it was a “bag that gives freedom” and fought human trafficking. I didn’t know what Freeset or human trafficking were so I started doing some research. As I looked around I found many awesome organizations, primarily non-profits, that were helping women and children worldwide be rescued from forced prostitution, domestic slavery and all kinds of exploitation. There was a whole world of tragedy I didn’t know existed and a practical and fun way to help stop it. As I was doing the research I found that I had to go to each non-profit’s page to purchase the items. I couldn’t find them all on one place where it would be easier to shop and thereby help these people. So, I decided to start one. I am an occupational therapist by trade so had NO idea what I was doing, but learned little by little through “Starting an Online Business for Dummies” and other similarly titled books! It was intended to be a hobby but has since become a passion of mine. I love supporting the non-profits and women, men and children they help truly survive these crimes against them. Its such a hopeful and meaningful way to help people and advocate for them. Because these things are truly unique, every time I wear something from the shop people ask me where I got it and I get to explain to them what the item is and who it benefits. People, especially women, love it!
Her shop is called Delicate Fortress Creations and she sells everything from clothing to jewelry to bath and body products. Each product has a mission to help save women and children from deplorable situations. Each item in her shop is made by an Artisan somewhere in the world who is trying to better her life and the life of her family. With just a necklace the cycle of poverty can be broken and these women are offered an alternative to a life of selling their bodies. The store’s motto is “Shop with Purpose” and Karyn believes that if you are going to spend money, you may as well be helping people along the way.
Truly amazing what one person with one idea can do to change the lives of others! Next time you are shopping for a gift, consider stopping by Delicate Fortress Creations first and buy a gift that gives.