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.

 

 

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Each day, as stubbornly high unemployment plagues Uganda, many struggle to find any kind of work. This is nowhere more true than in the northern part of the country where two decades of war have left almost no infrastructure intact. In an effort to survive when no other work could be found, Francis Kidega and his family of eight began making jewellery out of the only thing they had access to: paper. They are now able to support themselves through the revenue these crafts bring, even as they learn how to take their new skill and turn it into a business, helping their neighbouring families in the process. Revenue gained from the sale of these products supports this family as they work, learn, grow and share.

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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Uganda Snapshot

Population: 37.58 million
Capital: Kampala

Uganda is a fertile, land-locked country in East Africa, in the Africa Great Lakes region, with a tropical climate.

Great progress has been made in fighting HIV in Uganda, but 1.5 million people still live with the disease, and there are 1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

39% of girls are married by the age of 18. 37.7% of people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day.

A6

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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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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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.

SHOP

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read more ...

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When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

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Enabling ethical producers in Cambodia to connect with the outside world.

After decades of violent warfare, Cambodia has finally begun to stabilize and its people have started the long road to recovery. 80% of the population lives in rural conditions with low standards of living, and those who migrate to the cities struggle to adjust. In an effort to provide support for many young rural and urban Cambodians, AAC works alongside local workshops where people draw on their rich culture to design products reflective of a long and distinct heritage. Workers receive fair wages in decent working conditions, providing them the dignity of a respectable trade along with training workshops on life skills. Your purchases see these lives built and strengthened. Watch this video of artisans turning bullet shells into jewellery with one of AAC’s partners, Rajana: http://www.rajanacrafts.org/news/story.php?id=6

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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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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