Even in a city like Hong Kong, it can be easy for vulnerable women to fall into exploitative sex work. It can, equally, be very, very difficult to get out. NGO Eden exists to walk alongside women who want to exit the sex industry but lack the information, skills or job opportunities to do so. When they were planning their new community centre in Yau Ma Tei, Eden contacted Crossroads for help. They had the space, but needed furniture to fill it. We were only too happy to help with some of the furnishings and accessories on their wish list to support their goal of making their new centre a beautiful place for counselling, comfort, referral to services, job training and non-judgemental friendship (pictured below).

 

Eden jewellery is the best seller in our Global Handicrafts shop

We work with Eden in another part of our lives as well. One of the activities they undertake is training of women in exquisite jewellery making, produced on a fair trade basis. Their beautiful items are best sellers in our Global Handicrafts shop.

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It was never Maria‘s dream to become a sex worker. With a broken marriage behind her, though, and a past of rape and abuse, she was struggling to bring up her child in Hong Kong. Desperate, she signed up for work in a massage parlour: one which, like many, came with the expectation of ‘extra services’ for clients. As years passed in this role, Maria’s self-worth crumbled. Life held little promise. It didn’t take much convincing, then, when she met a man on WeChat who asked her to marry him, sight unseen. “Come and meet me in Australia,” he said, painting a picture of a new, trouble free life.

When she arrived at the airport in Australia, however, immigration officers were on high alert. Trained to identify signs of trafficking victims, they called Maria to one side. Before long, Maria discovered that, had she successfully connected with her ‘groom’, she would have become a statistic: one in a line of women tricked into work in a brothel or forced labour.

It was a narrow escape for Maria. She returned to Hong Kong shattered in spirit, but resolute about starting over. Thankfully, Maria met one of our partners, Eden, an NGO that supports women wanting to escape the sex industry. They gave her friendship and counselling. They helped her learn English. They supported her research into new job prospects, such that, today, Maria is thriving as a property agent.

Sadly, Maria’s story of hope does not typify the narrative for many who have been trafficked into sex work. Because of the underground nature of trafficking, it’s almost impossible to know the full scope, but estimates suggest 21 million people are trapped in modern day slavery, worldwide.

Eden is at work in several Asian locations, supporting other ‘Maria’s on their journeys. One of their centres trains its women to make jewellery: exquisite items that are among our best-sellers in Global Handicrafts, Crossroads’ fair trade shop. And, when Eden recently opened an office in Hong Kong, we were only too delighted to support it with donated furniture and computers from our warehouse.

Perhaps Maria herself is best in summing up the inspiring work of Eden. “You have helped me a lot,” she says. “You always ask me questions that inspire me to think deeply about myself. You are like my angels.”


Commitment for Freedom

Eden’s ‘Committed’ necklace is more than a piece of jewellery. Each necklace has a gold heart taken from the middle and made into another necklace. This second pendant is given to a woman through Eden’s projects in Asian red-light districts.

“We hand her the gift and tell her that somewhere in another city or country there is a person wearing the other half of her necklace who values her and is standing up for freedom,” say Eden.

Committed necklaces are available at Global Handicrafts for HK$245.

 

1, 224 pieces of Eden jewellery have been sold through our Global Handicrafts in 2017.

 

 

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Lured to the big cities by the prospect of finding a job to support their extended families, many young women in Asia instead find themselves led into prostitution by deceit, coercion, or desperation. They are then trapped by the lack of sufficient education, job skills, and familial connections needed to break free. They lose hope for a different way of life, suffering physically and emotionally from the struggles they face daily.

Eden formed as an outreach to these trapped women, offering them shelter, protection, medical assistance and skills training as a way to lift them out of their imprisoning circumstances. Women learn various job skills including making handicrafts, allowing them to find a new start in life.

Global Handicrafts sells Eden jewellery in our marketplace store, with many pieces available online. Purchasing the jewellery made by Eden’s artisans allows their work to continue, bringing new life and hope to women in Asia. Browse our Handicrafts store for Eden jewellery and other products by clicking the button below!
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Shop Now!

Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

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