One of the major underlying causes of human trafficking is poverty. Freedom Stones fights human trafficking through income generation projects aimed at not only providing financially for vulnerable families and their children, but also to empower individuals through holistic training and skills development. Freedom Stones, incorporated in 2009, envisions that vulnerable families might have opportunity to earn incomes while also being given the tools to build stronger, thriving communities in areas where poverty has historically perpetuated a cycle of slavery, oppression and injustice.
The Mission of Freedom Stones is to decrease the instances of human trafficking and exploitation in vulnerable communities. Through holistic skills development, social entrepreneurship and savings mobilization, Freedom Stones aims to transform individuals and entire communities so that they can begin walking in their God-given destinies free from extreme poverty, oppression and injustice.
Freedom Stones began as a dream to help impoverished and vulnerable individuals get beyond simply making an income. Our hope is to provide people with the skills and resources they need in order to come to a place of total transformation—Body, Mind and Spirit. Our experience is that people do not want to sell their children or their own body into sexual or bonded slavery. Freedom Stones was conceived with this truth at its core—people have the will, strength and ability to escape poverty, change their lives and even change the world if only given the right opportunities. Freedom Stones hopes to enable individuals and their entire families to move from a state of brokenness to a state of increasing wholeness – empowering communities to live in harmony with one another, God, and their environment.
Freedom Stones Founder, Leah Knippel, experimented with income generation projects beginning in 2005, while working for Rahab Ministries in Thailand. While at Rahab, Leah and her Thai coworker Prai, began a jewelry-making project helping women who had been rescued from prostitution in the notorious Patpong red light district of Bangkok. Later, Leah worked for World Concern in a regional trafficking prevention role, which further educated her about issues surrounding human trafficking in Asia, namely, that many organizations helping victims or working to prevent this crime needed some kind of livelihoods project for those most vulnerable. Since at the core of trafficking is poverty, one major path to prevention is to develop sustainable livelihoods in areas where trafficking threatens the lives of vulnerable individuals. While studying for her Master's in International Development at Eastern University, Leah began to develop the idea of Freedom Stones, a model for engaging individuals in income generation projects while also offering them comprehensive holistic and vocational training. The concept is not a new one, but we have tried to learn from others already implementing these concepts well as we apply them to this specific target group. Freedom Stones' ultimate vision is that vulnerable families might have opportunity to earn incomes while also being given the tools to build stronger, thriving communities in areas where poverty has historically perpetuated a cycle of slavery, oppression and injustice.