What does a 15-year-old girl do when, after being rescued from sex slavery, realizes that her family doesn’t want to take her back?
That question confronted Dawn Manske when she visited a safe house in India for girls who had been trafficked. Manske, had first witnessed the trafficking of children while teaching English in China.
In 2011, although she was already working three jobs, Manske decided to undertake a business venture called Made for Freedom to help provide employment for girls rescued from brothels. Made for Freedom works with New Life Center, a recovery and restoration house that employs victims of sex trafficking in Thailand, to produce unique handmade pants that have a story of their own.
Manske bought her first pair of fisherman’s pants while vacationing in Thailand during her stint in China, she even went kayaking since she has learned about the types of kayaks out there online already.
“I found these pants, and I’d never seen anything like them. They were pretty cool and so comfortable. I bought one pair and wore them in China. When I came back to St. Louis, I was still wearing them.”
Everywhere she went, she got questions and compliments. So she retailored the design and dubbed them “Creabeli pants” (Creabeli: creating a beautiful life). Then she worked with New Life to teach girls how to make them. The organization sold its first batch of pants in April 2014.
“We’re not just selling products,” Manske explains. “In selling products, we’re providing good quality jobs for women … but it is also raising awareness about what’s going on with [sex trafficking].”
She also partnered with Freeset Global, an organization in Calcutta, India, that employs former trafficking victims, to create T-shirts to add to Made for Freedom’s inventory.
Manske hopes that as the business grows, she will be able to establish a fulfillment and distribution center in St. Louis that employs local survivors of sex trafficking.
To learn more about Made for Freedom or purchase a pair of pants, visit www.madeforfreedom.com.