As many of you know I worked for a freedom business called Freeset, based in Kolkata, India which employ women who have been trafficked or forced into the sex trade. Freeset is based in the centre of one of the largest red light areas in Asia, Sonagatchi. This is not based on size but based on the 10,000 women and children inhabiting its lanes. Volunteering for Freeset was pure joy – seeing so much hope in such a place of darkness and has changed my life completely, both spiritually and directionally. It currently employs 190 women, giving them a choice – they can be free, they can walk away, they are empowered. Freeset also provides their employees with a pension, health care, child care and holistic counselling and support. Whilst I was there I saw two new sets of trainees coming in to be part of this ever expanding freedom business.
“I want our work to do well. I want girls to work well so we can grow to 500 girls. Sometimes I’m asked about Freeset – I tell people it is a factory where women from the brothels can get work and find freedom.” – Employee of Freeset
During my time there I became a friend, part of the family and witnessed true love and compassion, true community and true freedom. I have remained involved and returned last January to complete their course, The Freedom Encounter, where I learnt about the next steps for Freeset to expand and grow alongside studying scripture and visiting various other freedom businesses.
The Gateway Project
This is a new venture for Freeset, after 14 years of successful business they want to expand. The founders, Annie and Kerry, have a powerful vision to one day be able to provide employment for thousands, not hundreds of women. They started with 4 women and now have 190. They started with one building and now have three alongside land in Murshidabad where many girls are trafficked from. Now Freeset want to buy a new building which will give them the:
- Ability to employ more women
- Much needed space for many more freedom businesses to take root and grow – 2,000 sqm footprint and stands 5 floors tall
- Dignified and sustainable employment that generates income for women and their families
- Holistic social services including health-care, childcare, education and counselling
So why call it the Gateway Project? There is something very special about this building – it is situated on the corner of the main sex trade lane making it the Gateway to Sonagatchi, the Gateway to the red light area. When they secure this building it will stand as a beacon of hope to all and provide visibility to all that freedom can be found. Every women working, commuter travelling and potential customer will have to walk past this building to enter the area.
Picture: The gateway building which Freeset are purchasing
The total cost of the Freeset Gateway Campaign is US$3 million.
- US$2.3 million – building purchase & associated costs
- US$200 thousand – necessary renovations
- US$500 thousand – fund social services to help the women and families we serve more fully achieve freedom.
If you want to learn more visit: http://freesetglobal.com/gateway-learn.html
To support them in this I will be having another stand this year at St Mary’s Fair selling the products which these women make, please come along and visit. It’s a great chance to pick up a little something for a loved one or some much needed Christmas presents. Last year was a huge success and I hope this year will be too – I look forward to seeing you there on the 19th September!
Pictures: A few photos from last year’s stand at St Marys Fair
Peace and Love