When I glimpsed the phrase "free the girls" on the invite to the opening of a luxury lingerie boutique, I thought, "cute gimmick." Then I read a bit further and discovered that by bringing a bra and a buck to Hope Chest's event, guests would literally help FREE THE GIRLS -- from sex trafficking. And provide them with an ongoing means of support by re-selling the bras in their African communities.
By the time I'd finished scouring the non-profit organization's website, I was in tears at the stories of girls sold as sex slaves as young as age 8, often by their own families. For these women rescue is the crucial first step, of course, but then how do they support themselves? With bra power. At a safe house they receive their first supply of bras free, and then use the moneyfrom the sale of this sought after commodity to purchase the next batch, thus offering a sustainable business model, rather than an ongoing charity. Why bras rather than other clothing? Symbolism, maybe; the limited supply, surely; and then the simple fact that this is an item sold woman to woman.
The night of the party the boutique glowed pink, frothy lace and satin lingerie swayed along the walls, champagne bubbled, delicate tea sandwiches were passed on silver platters. But for me the prettiest sight was seen the next day, on Hope Chest's Facebook Page: on the floor of the boutique a lineup of the 90 bras donated by guests.
Like me, Hope Chest's owner Jennifer Rosen said she had a strong emotional response to Free the Girls and will be supporting the cause on an ongoing basis as a donation center at 1937 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. To find out about donation centers and events in your town visit Free The Girls' donate page.
(Photo by Doreen Creede)
"Use the good china for breakfast."