‘I would give him the money, he would hit me and I would cry’

Mexico workThis story, from our team in Mexico, is a difficult one to read but it’s so important to hear about the reality of life on the streets. Jazmin has shown such bravery and now she is on the path to freedom too

‘When I was 16 years old I came to the city looking for an opportunity to study, work and raise some money to help my family.

I felt so alone. One day a guy started talking to me, he was so kind and nice with me. After a couple of weeks he asked me if I would like to live with him… I had fallen in love, so I thought this is wonderful, and I said yes! 

Next week we moved to another part of the country. He used to leave early and I had to stay at home. One day he told me that it was getting so hard to get a job so I needed to work. I agreed. He said that in the city there was a good opportunity for a job and that we could get our own place if I helped him.

So we travelled to the big city and he introduced me to his brother’s wife. She started explaining how to use a condom and telling me how much money I need to ask for 15 minutes with the ‘johns’.

Scared and alone

While she was talking I could not believe what I was going to do. I said no, of course no! Then she said if you don’t do this he is going to kill you and your family. I was scared and did what she said.

After too many hours my boyfriend picked me up from the hotel and asked for the money. I was crying and scared. I gave him the money and asked him why he did not tell me about this? He just laughed and hit me.

That was the beginning of a lot of pain, suffering and shame. For five years, night after night, I just remember the same… I would give him the money, he would hit me and I would cry.’

A heartbreaking turning point

Then, Jazmin got pregnant. Heartbreakingly the baby was used by her pimp to force her to carry on working; he would keep the baby from her unless she did what he asked. One day, Jazmin did not make enough money. When his fists did not provoke a strong reaction from Jazmin, the pimp turned his attention to the baby. Appalled, Jazmin cried out for him to stop and promised that she would make more money.

As awful as that moment was for Jazmin, it was also the turning point. She knew she had to get away from him to save her baby’s life and her own.

The next day, Jazmin made a lot of money and her pimp was happy. He agreed that she could go and visit a friend. Walking to the bus station, Jazmin carried the baby in her arms. When the bus arrived the pimp demanded that she give the baby back. She refused.

‘No, I’m not going to give my baby back to you,’ she declared. ‘And if you don’t leave I’ll shout loudly asking for help. I’m not kidding, all these people will know who are you.’

A courageous decision

Even with the Pimp’s threats ringing in her ears, Jazmin stood her ground. She got on the bus holding tightly to her little boy, her legs shaking, not knowing what to do next.

She went back to her parent’s house. They are very poor and Jazmin felt that the only way she could provide for her baby was to keep working as a prostitute.  ‘It’s the only thing I knew,’ she says.

Wonderfully for Jazmin, an outreach team supported by The Freedom Challenge have been working in Jazmin’s area. They have befriended her, prayed with her and encouraged her. Now, she wants to leave prostitution for good. The team are looking for a job for her and meeting with her each week, walking beside her and loving her just like Jesus would do.

You can help many more women like Jazmin to experience hope and healing – $150 sets one woman on a path to freedom. Join us – donate today!

 

Uhuru: ‘Freedom’ in Swahili

Kili climbAs this blog post goes out, two US women and 18 others are climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. We hope their words here will inspire you. Then, read on to find out how you can get involved and take up a challenge of your own!

 

Climbing Africa’s highest mountain is one of the most challenging treks in the world. It will take the women seven days to conquer the nearly 20,000-foot summit and temperatures may reach -20F at the top.

So why are they doing it?

Sarah, one of the climbers (pictured left), tells us what is going through her mind as she climbs:

“It’s the end of day two and we’re all feeling a little tired, a little sore. But happy and in good spirits.

“We’ve had a little bit more of a tough climb than we expected today. But we went up the side of the mountain over rocks and boulders and it was actually very beautiful.

“While I was climbing I was listening to a song called ‘You make me brave’ and I started praying for the Lord not only to make us brave and courageous to get up the mountain but also for the girls who are caught in trafficking. That he would strengthen them and make them brave, especially if they have choices that are hard to make. And so it was a good time of prayer as we were going up the mountain.”

The women are climbing for the freedom of the 30 million enslaved, exploited and oppressed women and children around the world.

“The Freedom Challenge Climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro is symbolic,” says Tina Yeager, director of The Freedom Challenge. “It’s the highest freestanding mountain in the world and its summit, Uhuru, means “freedom” in Swahili. Our comparably small sacrifice of giving up our home comforts, vacations and time with family pales in comparison to the suffering of these people.”

“The Freedom Challenge’s purpose is to be a voice for the voiceless; for those who cannot declare freedom in their lives and climb out of their circumstances on their own,” says Yeager. “The climb is merely a symbolic gesture of what women and children around the world go through every single day. It symbolizes their arduous climb to freedom.”

The good news is you don’t have to go to Tanzania to experience a Freedom Challenge climb. This year you can stay right at home in the US and come with us to The Grand Tetons in Wyoming in July.

You can hike or bike, you don’t need any experience, and you’ll discover for yourself all the joy, fun and exhilaration that Sarah describes above. What’s stopping you?

Find out more and sign up here: www.thefreedomchallenge.com/16-wyoming

Keep up-to-date with all the news from our climbers’ on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheFCUSA).

“I want to be a teacher to help poor children like me”

Sroem pic 2

Your support for The Freedom Challenge, helps girls like Sroem in Cambodia to overcome enormous hardship, and protects them from falling prey to traffickers. Sroem is now receiving an education – something that is changing her life and helping her to dream big dreams for the future. Read her story here:

“When I grow up I want to be a teacher, so that I can help poor children like me,” says 14-year-old Sroem.

She lives in Cambodia with her grandmother, So Bunne.

Sroem’s parents divorced when she was young. Thereafter, she lived with her mother and stepfather. When Sroem was six years old, her mother contracted a serious illness but did not have any money for treatment. Doctors refused to treat her and sent her home. A few days later, she passed away. In the same year, her stepfather died of hunger. Sroem’s world was turned upside down – she became an orphan.

Since then, Sroem’s grandmother has taken care of her even though they are very poor and have hardly anything to eat. They live in a simple house with Sroem’s nephews and grandfather. Sroem, despite her youth, has taken on the responsibilities of cooking for the family, washing laundry and cleaning the house.

Fortunately Phearun, a social worker at a Freedom Challenge-supported project in Cambodia (Mercy Teams International), got to know the family. “Although the family were in a desperate situation, the grandmother was committed to sending Sroem to school,” says Phearun. “Against all odds, she managed to send her granddaughter to school but did not have enough money for school uniform, textbooks and even food.”

“I know that getting an education is very important to Sroem,” says So Bunne. “Although we lack money, we can eat less. But Sroem needs to go to school.”

Sroem found out about the Karaoke Programme, computer and English courses at MTI and she started attending them in 2013. The Karaoke Programme provides vulnerable children with knowledge on self-protection from abuse and oppression. During the programme, MTI social workers train the children through interactive methods such as games, songs and drama.

Sroem pic

Given her strained financial situation at home, Phearun arranged for Sroem to be on the Family Sponsorship Program.

The MTI Family Sponsorship Program offers financial assistance to families living in Phnom Penh slums, primarily to help them send their children to school. In addition, they receive other support services such as counselling, social work, hospital and medical assistance, as well as training in child safety, hygiene and abuse issues. The goal is to see these families empowered to be financially independent.

Under the program, Sroem received financial assistance which goes towards her school fees, textbooks, uniforms, rice and supplementary pocket money to ensure that she can continue to receive an education and adequate nutrition.

Sroem, now in Grade 7, treasures the opportunity of studying. She is doing well academically, always coming top of the class. “I enjoy school life very much and have a lot of friends in school and MTI,” remarked Sroem, with a sweet smile.

“I am thankful for the MTI staff and supporters all around the world. Because of them, I can go to school and my family has enough food to eat,” says Sroem with gratitude. “In secondary school, I will study harder. I want to get a scholarship and study overseas.”

Your support really does change lives! $150 sets one woman on a path to freedom. Donate or join us at one of our events. In July, we’re hiking the Grand Tetons in Wyoming for girls like Sroem. Sign up here.

 

 

“God created me to ‘Do Something’!”

IMG_1494.JPG

This July, a group of ordinary women – business professionals, stay-at-home moms, grandmas, sisters, friends – will be taking part in an extraordinary challenge. From 31 July – 5 August, women from the US and further afield will be hiking and biking in the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Why are we doing this? To raise awareness of and funds for projects supported by The Freedom Challenge to free women and children from modern-day slavery.

Some of us are gym bunnies, hikers, travellers, others of us have health challenges, or haven’t hiked in years.

It will be an experience that you’ll never forget – you will make a difference in the lives of oppressed women and your own life will be impacted too. Still not sure if this is right for you?

Take a look at the following words (including a video) from women already signed up, and some who’ve climbed before, and let them inspire you!

‘I had gone to a conference put on by Women Impacting the Nation and heard a speaker talking about women being enslaved and the enormous amount of money that it generates and how pornography is the cause or motivating factor for much of this.

I have a friend who had done the Freedom Challenge in Africa a few years ago and I was so inspired by her efforts also.  I figured, if I was ever going to do something like this, it better be soon since I am 66 and climbing mountains is more difficult than it was a few years ago.  I am also facing a knee replacement and praying for a complete recovery before the climb.’

Ann Darling, part of the Wyoming 2016 team

‘I had the privilege of climbing in the Swiss Alps with the Freedom Challenge team in 2015. As a leader of a project that receives support from Freedom Challenge I wanted to be a part of the process of raising funds and meeting some of the ladies who have made possible the training of our teachers and the ability to reach out with love to the children in our classrooms. I can’t fully express how the hiking affected me, I am still processing the lessons I have learned.

It was amazing to sense the team effort. Even though each of us had to put one foot in front of the other to get up (and down) the various peaks, there was a real sense that we were in this together. The moments on the trail brought opportunities to share our life experiences and fears, hopes, visions for the future and purpose for hiking, one-to-one as well as in groups, as we found places for picnic lunches along the trail. There were moments that were full of laughter and singing and joyful banter and then focused, quiet, prayerful, concentrated times of just managing to put one foot in front of the other, being intensely reminded of the women and children we were hiking for and the mountains they face. It amazed me how much a simple word of encouragement could help shift my thinking from, “I don’t think I can take another step” to “Ok, just one more, and one more…until we reached the top…” ’

Shirley Turner, previous participant and part of the Wyoming 2016 team, and OM missionary in Zambia

Below, Cathey Anderson (the late founder of The Freedom Challenge) and Joanne Hummel, talk about the amazing ways God meets with each participant on the climb:

‘My motivation is based on the song by Matthew West – “Do Something”. I know God created me to “Do Something” about the social injustice of modern-day slavery. I am committed to be a voice for those women and children that don’t have a voice. Climbing mountains to raise funds and then sharing my story about the climbs as an inspirational speaker is my way to “Do Something”.’

Ginger Martin, President and CEO of American National Bank and part of the Wyoming 2016 team

‘I want to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of women locally and globally. The Wyoming event, raises awareness and funding about the scourge of human trafficking and oppression, and I want to be a part of it.’

Teresa Vaughn, part of the Wyoming 2016 team

‘I’ve been to Costa Rica and met women who have been transformed by the love of Christ, and are being transformed. God is meeting them there right where they are. Just like He met me right when I climbed Kilimanjaro to help me, give me His breath and strength to get me to the top. One step and one breath at a time as I prayed and asked for it, and depended on Him for it. God will meet each woman who steps out in faith, and says yes to him and follows after Him. As we do, He reveals Himself to us in the most amazing ways, and heals and restores us, guides and protects us, brings us into relationship with Him and with each other.’

Cindy Rine, previous participant and part of the Wyoming 2016 team

We would love for you to join us – the hike is suitable for women without any experience of hiking and those who are pros!

Find out more and sign up at: www.thefreedomchallenge.com/16-wyoming

2016 Freedom Climb Wyoming

“God’s blessing is on my life after many years of trouble”

The Tabitha project, Zambia

The Freedom Challenge supports projects that prevent, develop, rescue and restore vulnerable women, women who may be a target for traffickers because they are poor or because they find themselves in desperate circumstances, like Grace.

A few years ago, Grace’s husband was hit by a car near their home in Kabwe, Zambia. He died instantly.

At the time, Grace was pregnant, about to give birth to their fifth child. Now, she would have to care for, feed and clothe five children all on her own. And that wasn’t all, Grace also had to deal with being looked down upon by her family and community because she no longer had a husband to provide for her.

There were many days when Grace and her young family would go to bed without having eaten anything at all.

Thankfully, the Freedom Challenge-supported Tabitha project was there to help – they provided Grace with skills training and reached out to her with love. It took time for Grace to accept the support on offer, but slowly she began to smile again and develop a new hope for her future.

With the help of the Tabitha project Grace has opened a small grocery shop selling fresh produce and household goods.

Grace’s dream is to be able send all five of her children to school, to have food to feed them each day and to learn to read and write. Perhaps these are, to us, simple dreams, and yet these are things we can so easily take for granted.

Grace asks us to remember her in prayer: ‘Please pray with me for favor over my business. I continually experience others being jealous of me whenever I start to do something good. So please also pray that my neighbors will not be jealous, but will see that it is God’s blessing upon my life after many years of trouble.”

Wouldn’t you love to help more women like Grace experience the abundant life God has for them? You can make a lasting difference to women’s lives by taking part in a Freedom Challenge event (the next one is in July in Wyoming) or by making a donation – $150 sets one woman on a path to freedom.

Thank you for partnering with us.

About the Tabitha project, Zambia

Tabitha Skills Development is a discipleship program focused on empowering and equipping vulnerable and marginalized women through skills training. A woman may be trained in a specific skill such as sewing, beading, cookery, knitting or crocheting. In addition to the skills training, all women have a chance to receive guidance in basic life skills such as cooking, health, HIV/Aids, gardening, basic business and literacy. Each woman is challenged spiritually to find her identity and freedom in Christ by going through topics such as repentance, faith, baptism, Lordship, hearing God’s voice, the father heart of God and prayer.

The one year Tabitha Initiative program goes one step further to intentionally empower women to use their own initiatives to start small businesses that are focused on reaching out to others. Each woman receives her own audio-Bible, for the evangelistic purpose of playing it in her shop, the market or wherever she does business. Each woman is also equipped to confidently lead Discovery Bible Studies with a small group of community women. In addition to starting a small business, each woman will be spiritually mentored and developed in leadership.

Why I climb – Shirley Turner

Shirley turner

Why sign up to a Freedom Challenge climb? Shirley Turner, who is taking part in the Wyoming climb in July, truly inspires us to see what a difference this climb could make to vulnerable women and children and to our own lives

My name is Shirley, I’m originally from the US. But right now I live in Kabwe, Zambia. I am an OM missionary serving with the Teacher Training Centre.

I had the privilege of climbing in the Swiss Alps with The Freedom Challenge team in 2015. As a leader of a project that receives support from The Freedom Challenge I wanted to be a part of the process of raising funds and meeting some of the ladies who have made possible the training of our teachers and the ability to reach out with love, education and hope into the lives of the children in our classrooms. I can’t fully express how the hiking affected me, I am still processing the lessons I have learned.

‘In this together’

It was amazing to sense the team effort. Even though each of us had to put one foot in front of the other to get up (and down) the various peaks, there was a real sense that we were in this together. The moments on the trail brought opportunities to share, on a one-to-one basis, our life experiences and fears, hopes, visions for the future and purpose for hiking.

There were moments that were full of laughter and singing and joyful banter and then focused, quiet, prayerful, concentrated times of just managing to put one foot in front of the other, being intensely reminded of the women and children we were hiking for and the mountains they face.

It amazed me how much a simple word of encouragement could help shift my thinking from, “I don’t think I can take another step” to “Ok, just one more, and one more,” until we reached the top. So many of these experiences parallel what we experience on the field with the women and children we walk alongside as we train teachers and as we see them pouring their lives out for the children.

‘The Lord touched my heart’

For me personally, many of the moments that brought courage and hope to my heart involved hiking just behind Cathey Anderson, (founder of the Freedom Challenge who passed away in December). The Lord touched my heart so many times as I looked up to see her plodding steadily on even though I knew she was tired and in pain. On less strenuous sections of the path I was privileged to walk beside her and experience some beautiful moments of sharing parts of our life stories.

So, I am climbing again…for the purpose of thanking God for Cathey; for the purpose of asking God to further develop my heart of love and compassion to be an encouragement to others; and so the women and children here in Zambia can be reached with the love of Christ and infused with the hope and courage Christ brings to a heart and life as we train them in bringing a Christ-centred education into lost communities.

Inviting friends

I am trusting the Lord to be able to bring one of our teachers who just recently finished her year of training in class and will be serving in Malawi as a teacher this year. I would love for her to be able to share her story and meet women who are passionate about sharing the love of Christ with vulnerable and exploited women and children around the world through hiking and raising prayer and awareness and funds. I have also invited a friend from Pennsylvania who will be hiking with us and I am looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in our hearts and minds during this time.

‘The Lord meets with us in so many ways’

So for anyone still undecided, I would say just sign up! It is a journey that the Lord uses to meet with us in so many ways – building faith, sharing His heart of love for us and for those we are hiking for, showing what a personally involved God He is in every small and large provision, speaking truth and bringing transformation in our lives as well as those we hike for. And the list goes on and on and on as to what He will do!

A Million Steps to Freedom

FC2

We have a big goal this year – to set 1,000 women and children free. Will you join us?

January. A fresh start. New opportunities. New hopes.

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about how we can improve our lives, how we can achieve the things we want in life, and how we can make this year better than the last.

Although making a new year’s resolution may be losing popularity, did you know that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goal than people who don’t?

So we have a new year challenge for you.

This January we are launching ‘A Million Steps to Freedom’

It will motivate you to get fit, not just for yourself but for others – for your team and for the 24 million women and children around the world who are trapped in modern-day slavery.

This year you can change your own life and change the lives of others by joining our Million Steps to Freedom campaign!

How to get involved

You and nine of your friends create a team of 10 women. You each commit to take 10,000 steps per day for 10 days. You set a team fundraising goal and invite others to join you by sponsoring each day of your challenge.

It’s a big goal, but a simple idea. We want to see groups of friends embark on new journeys together—journeys that will collectively lead to the freedom of 1,000 women and children from modern-day slavery.

So grab your friends. Let’s unleash freedom in 2016!

To sign up, download resources and to find out more visit:

www.thefreedomchallenge.com/mstf