Windy was born in a rural town in Asia. After going through years of physical abuse, when she was a teenager she moved to a friend’s house in a major city to find work. Once there, she found herself trapped in a life of exploitation. After being abused daily for a year, she met women from Starfish Project, and has already been with us for four years. On multiple occasions Windy has said that since being here she has learned to be confident, caring, and open-minded. And she has realized she has her own identity.
Windy is an intelligent girl with a unique taste in fashion and a personality that lights up the room–she brings life to our office. Since being with Starfish Windy has excelled in basic computer lessons, English classes, and Photoshop training. She is now the assistant to the Creative Director, and is continuing to pursue her dream to become a photographer. Who Windy is and the transformation that has occurred is why we do what we do. She is one of many who inspire us.
The main goal of Starfish Project has always been to provide alternative employment and holistic care services to the exploited and abused women we work with so they can have the tools to empower themselves and make an impact in the lives of their families and communities.
“In the beginning, I had this idea that everyone has an amazing dream inside of them, and if given the opportunity they could achieve great things,” said Jenny McGee, Founder & CEO. “But as I got to know the women and started asking about their dreams, I realized that human trafficking has a way of stripping people of their ability to dream. These women didn’t want to be doctors or lawyers; they just wanted a stable life and the ability to provide for their families.”
This past Easter holiday marked Starfish Project’s ninth year of rescuing women from sexually exploitive circumstances and giving them the tools and opportunities to work. At Starfish we provide counseling, vocational training, language acquisition, family education grants, and health care access, as well as safe housing in our women’s shelter.
Today Starfish Project is globally respected and has helped more than 100 women out of sexually exploitive situations by giving them alternative employment making original jewelry and helping to run the Project’s business operations. The Project’s jewelry is sold in more than 60 boutiques and through a network of advocates in North America. The Starfish women now work and receive holistic care services in three Asian cities.
After successfully developing a business model and holistic care program, Starfish Project is now expanding in order to help even more women. To take the organization to the next level, Starfish Project launched a global crowdfunding campaign at www.CrowdRise.com on April 21 with the goal of raising US$150,000. The funds will be used to accelerate production and expand its services and operational capabilities.
“The more money we raise, the more jewelry we can sell to larger chains. That lets us save more women, which is always our goal,” said McGee. “The CrowdRise campaign is a first for us and we’re excited to see the response from our community and all those who care about giving sex-trafficked women a chance to break out of the cycle of abuse and start a new life.”
Just this year we have started working with women who have been trafficked internationally. So far we have helped 15 women return home. But, we realize that in order to help these women most effectively we need to expand our programs to provide them with the tools they need to thrive while with us.
In March we had several meetings with larger retailers in the US who are very interested and excited about selling our products. Jenny will have a follow-up meeting with one of the large retailers this week. In order to meet the requirements of these department stores we need to have the right infrastructure in place to fulfill large orders.
The US$150,000 we hope to raise through the Expansion Campaign will be used to meet both these needs–expanding our programs to work with internationally trafficked women and building our business infrastructure and capacity in order to sell to large retailers.
The Starfish Project Expansion Campaign will run through May 21. To learn more about this opportunity or to donate please go to www.crowdrise.com/starfishprojectexpansion.
Images courtesy of Starfish Project