How does Freedom Stones work?
Freedom Stones looks for effective community based organizations who are working with groups at high risk of trafficking. For example, in Pattaya, Thailand we work with Pattaya Slum Ministries, an organization that goes into the poorest communities in a city where over 40,000 men, women and children are working in the sex industry. Clearly, those living impoverished in the slums are at risk of, if not already working in the sex industry; their children are therefore also at risk. When we partner with an organization such as Pattaya Slum Ministries, we do an assessment of the community and their needs alongside the leaders of these local organizations. We look for participation from the community members themselves and assess whether they would like to work in a Freedom Stones project in their community, inclusive of holistic training classes for 1 to 2 years. While the artisans make products for Freedom Stones the holistic skills training includes modules such as small business management, personal financial management, micro-business and micro-lending, personal savings, biblical values in the marketplace. Modules also include non-business related training such as topics on child rights, HIV/AIDS, trafficking awareness, safe migration, health/nutrition, and encountering the gospel of Christ, which drives the work we and our partners do.
At the end of their training, Freedom Stones will help Artisans obtain a micro-loan from a reputable micro-finance institution or simply use their required savings account, (which has grown over the course of their time with the project) to start a local small business of their choosing (such as a laundry service or a small local restaurant). The goal is that they graduate and move on into the dream and destiny of their choosing after a set amount of time in the program. Individuals affected by human trafficking are a special group and are sometimes less ready for the miracle of theYunnus-style microloan. Thus Freedom Stones hopes to be enable families and individuals to move from a place of brokenness to a place where they are ready to move beyond dependency on an organization and into a local sustainable livelihood.