About Freedom Stones
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Since 2005, Founder Leah Knippel has been fighting human trafficking through income generation projects aimed at not only providing financially for vulnerable women and their children, but also aimed at empowering women through holistic training and skills development. Our hope is that vulnerable families will not only achieve personal livelihoods, but also be able to build stronger thriving communities in areas where poverty continues a cycle of slavery, oppression and injustice.
(Picture of some woman making jewelry)
The Mission of Freedom Stones is to decrease the instances of human trafficking in communities most vulnerable to this international crime. Through holistic skills development, income generation projects and a micro-lending strategy, Freedom Stones aims to transform individuals and entire communities so that they can begin walking in their God-given destinies free from extreme poverty, oppression and injustice.
Freedom Stones began as a dream to help impoverished women get beyond simply making an income. Our hope is to bring them to a place of total transformation--Soul, Mind and Spirit. Women are the same everywhere?they love their children, they want to take care of their families and they want to help one another. Our experience is that no woman really wants to sell her children or her own body into sexual or bonded slavery. Freedom Stones was conceived with this truth at its core?women have the will, strength and ability to escape poverty, change their lives and even change the world if only given the right opportunities. Freedom Stones hopes to be that vehicle of change that takes women and their entire families from a state of brokenness to a state of increasing wholeness ? leaving communities who are in harmony with one another, God, and their environment.
Leah began Freedom Stones unofficially (and accidentally) in 2005 when she experimented with income generation projects while working for Rahab Ministries in Thailand. While at Rahab, Leah and her Thai coworker Prai, began a jewelry-making project helping women who had been rescued from prostitution in the notorious Patpong red light district of Bangkok. Later, Leah worked for World Concern in regional trafficking prevention role, which further educated her about issues surrounding the human trafficking dilemma in Asia, namely, that many organizations helping victims or working to prevent this crime, needed some kind of livelihoods project for those most vulnerable. It seemed to her that at the core of trafficking was poverty, and that one major path to prevention was to develop sustainable livelihoods in areas where trafficking threatened the lives of women and children. Through her master?s work at Eastern University studying International Development, Leah began to think through a model that might address these economic development needs of this specific target group. Thus was born the idea of Freedom Stones as a model for engaging individuals in income generation projects while also offering them comprehensive holistic and vocational training. Leah?s idea is not a new one, but she has tried to learn from others already implementing these concepts well and applying them to this specific target group. We are a learning organization, and as such will continue to build and improve this model as we continue learning from our existing partners in Ghana, Thailand and Cambodia and hopefully as we add new partners around the world in the future.
(picture of Leah)