Free for Life International partners with organizations and individuals globally to meet the needs of trafficking survivors and those who are considered to be in high risk of being trafficked. Members of the Chattanooga Vineyard Church, along with other individuals in the area who support freedom from sex slavery, are taking local action to help people halfway across the globe. The goal is to raise both money and awareness to help stop sex slavery.
The Free for Life 5K race will be Nov. 23 at 8:30 a.m. at Tennessee River Park (Pavilion 3), Robinson Bridge entrance and will raise money to prevent traffickers from selling young children or any human into sex slavery.
The website is www.FreeForLifeIntl.org.
In 2010, Free for Life International began focusing its efforts internationally in Nepal, working with Peace Rehabilitation Center and together built border monitoring stations in Nepal / India where 240 girls have been rescued and 19 traffickers have been brought to justice. In March they built another one in Nepal / Tibet where 31 girls have been rescued and two traffickers have been brought to justice.
Free for Life International visits their partners a minimum of once a year to ensure all standards of care and accountability are being met. All the money donated is focused in four main areas – what they like to call the 4 S’s: Shelters, Stations (Border Monitoring), Scholarships, and Sustainable Projects.
The number of shelters supported are: 2010: two; 2011: two; 2012: two; growth will be based on ability to support partners with excellence, monitor effectiveness in a systematic manner, and secure donors to fund additional works.
The number of scholarships given: 2011 – 2012: 6 2013:___
The number of trafficking survivors helped: 2010: 39; 2011: 72; 2012: 159 2013:___
The prosecution of traffickers: 2010: 3; 2011: 6; 2012: 10 2013:___
Here is a rescued girls story:
"When you read Aapti’s story it is hard to imagine that she is only 19 years of age. When Aapti was just six months old, her mother died, and her father, an addict, abandoned her. Aapti however was not alone she was taken in and raised by her grandfather. He was a very loving man, and although no one can substitute for a mother, she was loved and secure.
"That security abruptly came to an ended when her grandfather became ill and passed away. At this point, she was a teenager, and her biological father and new stepmother found out that Aapti was alone. They were able to gain access to her and to Aapti’s horror her father sold her into domestic slavery to a hotel. Just imagine this time in her life that while she was so vulnerable as she grieved her grandfather’s death her father would exploit and betray her.
"Aapti escaped from the hotel and returned to her village area. But when her father and stepmother heard she was back, they again sold her – this time to a different hotel – again as a domestic slave. At this hotel, she was physically and sexually abused, as she was forced to work long hours with no pay. She fought back and was able again find a way to escape, but – with no means of support and nowhere else to go – she went back to her village out of desperation.
"This time, her father and stepmother loaded Aapti along with other girls onto a bus with the intention of selling them to a brothel in India. The bus driver overheard enough of the discussions going on to figure out what was happening. He was able to find a way to allow Aapti and two other girls to jump from the bus. Aapti was injured when she jumped, but she managed to make her way into the jungle, where her body finally gave way, and she passed out.
"Aapti was found by one of the staff working at Free for Life’s partner border monitoring station on Nepal-India border. She was taken to a hospital for treatment, and finally, after many years of having nowhere to run, she was ushered through the doors of Nepal’s Safe Home, Peace Rehabilitation Center. She could breathe deeply for the first time in a long time.
"Today, Aapti’s soul cries out something very similar to the lyrics that many of us know so well: I sing because I’m happy / I sing because I’m free / For His eye is on the sparrow / And I know he watches me (His Eye is on the Sparrow). Now, there is no more running – she rests from peace, not exhaustion. She is doing very well, and her future looks bright. Her story already points to her courageous spirit and what a fighter she is. But now that Aapti’s spirit has been coupled with people who walk beside her with support to help her succeed, the possibilities are very exciting to consider. Aapti is indeed a remarkable young woman and we are indeed blessed to be just a small part of helping her find the freedom so desperately desired."