Prevention is Cure
Awareness is not enough... but prevention is.
Just a little over three years ago when LandMine Design began forming its foundation, its vision and call to action, we realized that in the process of job creation and the empowerment of women we were in a much greater battle. It is a battle that The End It Movement has helped the world wake up to. Today, 20.9 million people are in slavery, more than ever in history. LandMine Design was formed in the middle of one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the world, Southeast Asia. We became aware that we were a part of something much larger than ourselves. The work we were striving to accomplish was part of a movement; the movement to end slavery.
As we began employing and educating women, we realized that we were minimizing their risk, vulnerability and opportunity to become victims of slavery. We began asking ourselves, "What if we could keep the horrors of prostitution and slavery from ever becoming an option for women in poverty?"
And that's when we declared war on the same battle The End It Movement is fighting and joined forces.
Our piece of the puzzle? Prevention. We believe prevention is the cure.
When 15-year-old Volek began working for LandMine Design, she was lost and grasping for something. She had only completed a third-grade education. Her demeanor was consumed by sadness; her eyes filled with tears when talking about her life. She was orphaned and living in a hut with her aging and handicapped grandparents who could not work. As a young girl, Volek had to grow up quickly to help provide basic necessities such as food, water, and clothes for her family. Life was very hard on her. She couldn't attend school because she had to work in the fields to earn an income. Working in the fields sometimes meant crossing a border where she could have easily become a victim of human trafficking. Many women working across the border are treated poorly, abused, taken advantage of and paid terrible wages. Worst of all, Volek didn't know what it meant to dream for her future because her future simply meant considering what she would eat the next day. Yet, she was grasping for something of purpose, something beyond mere survival.
We wondered what would happen if we gave Volek an opportunity to work at LandMine Design; a place where she could receive an education but also earn an income in the safety of her own home.
The outcome was shocking, even for us. Volek experienced a complete transformation. By being a part of this program, she met her very first mentor, a strong woman who oversees the holistic portion of care for each of our women. Volek found purpose and confidence in herself through the avenue of rolling paper beads and being surrounded by a community of women who support one another. Something powerful was happening, something of value inside of her, where she began to believe she was worth much more than being a field worker and merely surviving. She became a dreamer.
Prevention led a young vulnerable girl in the trenches of poverty and the dangers of slavery to become a DREAMER. Today Volek dreams of becoming a teacher and translator. I wonder if this dreamer would even recognize her old self? What a change in her thinking, her heart, and in the depths of her soul.
You see, Volek represents an entire generation. A generation that needs the world to join a movement that will give them a future in which they may thrive. Because if the millions of young poor and vulnerable teenage girls in the world had the opportunity to be educated, work within safe confines, and know their value BEFORE ever having the opportunity to be snatched up in the terrors of slavery, then a movement toward prevention will have been worth it.
This month we're saying awareness isn't enough. We must do more. There must be action toward prevention. That's the part of the battle LandMine Design is in, waging war against slavery. We join the movement to end slavery by never giving young vulnerable girls the chance to be enslaved.
For those of us getting ready to join the movement on February 25th, ready to pull out our red markers and draw an X on our hands - I challenge each of us to go a step further. I challenge us to consider making a purchase that would prevent a generation of Volek's from ever having to face the darkness of slavery. I challenge us to seriously contemplate donating towards the work LandMine Design is doing. Consider what it means to join us in fighting this battle. It's as simple as following our LandMine Design journey, of sharing who we are and why we exist. It's as simple as gifting a friend with a bracelet that was handmade by Volek; a dreamer and one of our heroes. It’s a simple as donating to LandMine Design so we may continue hiring more women and expanding the program to reach hundreds of at-risk women and children.