In my last post I spoke about how I would utilize my skills towards making a positive difference. Well I am very happy to announce that I have chosen my first cause to shine some light on.
I recently had the pleasure of hearing a very inspiring lady named Nicky Mih speak at a local conference about her non profit organization “Free To Shine” and why she decided to start it.
In December 2009 Nicky spent a month in Cambodia with more than 200 survivors of sex-trafficking. She saw terror in the eyes of girls who had just been rescued, she met survivors who had been tortured, survivors who were now helping others, survivors who were rebuilding their lives and reintegrating back into their communities, and she met a little girl who was just 6 years old she was sold when she was 4! Nicky asked these survivors how we in Australia could help. What did they want?
They wanted to end sex slavery. They wanted for survivors to be able to attend university so that they could become teachers, doctors and lawyers as they viewed these professions as being fundamental in ending sex slavery. They also explained that when girls are rescued from the brothels the traffickers simply go out into the villages and take a new young girl. They wanted these girls to be protected. They believed that if these young girls were in school they would not be trafficked. These survivors had identified a gap! There were fabulous organisations collaborating with the police on rescue operations, there were aftercare centres, there were legal teams working in the justice system to bring about prosecutions. But they couldn’t find an organisation out in these rural villages specifically identifying these girls before the traffickers did. And so was born “Free To Shine.”
Free To Shine believe children should be in schools, not brothels. So they identify girls that are at high risk of being targeted by traffickers, get her a uniform and a bike, fill a bag with books and pens, and visit her regularly to keep her in school and keep her safe. They equip her with an education to prevent sex trafficking.”
Children get trafficked into the commercial sex industry from these rural villages, it’s why Free To Shine work there. But it is not from a lack of caring. The condition in which these families attempt to survive and raise children is impossible to comprehend. While you sit safely in a heated home, with water that runs right out of the tap, have electricity at the flick of a switch, food in your fridge and children who get to go to school, it is impossible to fathom the desperation these families encounter. Yet these villages are not devoid of morals. These villages are filled with strong women doing everything they can think of to hold their families together. Free To Shine help families problem solve. Whether they are encountering financial difficulties, not enough food to eat, health issues and medical expenses, loans to pay, alcohol abuse or family violence. They provide education and guidance to help them find their way through it, all the time keeping their daughter’s safety and right to education at the forefront.
It is an honor and a privilege to partner with these families to get and keep their daughters in school, so that they, equipped with an education, will have an easier life. No longer forced to focus on survival they will be able to turn their attentions to leading their communities, and even their country.
Free To Shine achieved their goal of 200 girls enrolled by June 2014 and are well on track to achieve their goal of 500 girls by June 2016.
20% of each sale from my Sacred Art collection goes directly towards helping “Free To Shine” in achieving this goal.
As a father of two daughters myself, I couldn’t possibly go on and ignore this horrible truth without doing something about it.
If your in a position to make an investment for a piece of my art, I will send you regular updates on exactly how your investment has helped change lives. Together WE can make a difference…
To discover more about “Free To Shine” and the amazing work they are doing please visit their website