3 Strands Bracelets to End Human Trafficking

I’ve always been inspired by incredible stories – stories of bossladies following their passions and making dreams realities, stories of recovery and overcoming hardships, stories of strength and faith. But a story that really touches my heart? People who constantly fight the fight against human trafficking. J and I have a particularly strong desire to do whatever we can to end it once and for all; there’s just something about the idea of commoditizing other human beings that makes my heart hurt like no other.

When I first learned about 3 Strands, I knew I had to do something to get involved and help spread their mission to whoever would possibly listen. The short of it: 3 Strands bracelets are beautiful handmade seed bead bracelets to raise funds that go entirely to fighting trafficking. Entirely. 100% of proceeds – yup, 100%! – go to employing at-risk individuals and survivors in Cambodia and Nepal, educating students, and expanding work into other countries. Every bracelet has at least one red bead on it, each representing a victim of human trafficking.

3 Strands Bracelets to End Human Trafficking featured by popular Philadelphia blogger, Coming Up Roses

3 STRANDS BRACELETS TO HELP HUMAN TRAFFICKING

I had the chance to chat with the founder of 3 Strands, Ken Peterson, and I’m just going to let his words speak for themself. Ken’s roots have been around these blossoming parts before, too…besides being the founder of 3Strands, he’s also the founder and CEO of Apricot Lane. Remember this interview with WNBA’s Candice Dupree and this perfect bright blazer? #throwback

 

Now I KNOW you roses will absolutely fall in love with the story, bracelets, and whole cause that is 3Strands. Stay tuned until the end to learn how you can get involved and join the fight, to whatever degree you want, whether that means wearing a bracelet with a red bead, hosting a whole party to spread them on a wider scale, helping to spread educational efforts, volunteering, or even running in a race to end human trafficking. Let’s take it away, Ken!

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1. How did your connection to Break Free inspire the launch of 3 Strands?

3Strands and Break Free started out as two separate organizations, but we both had the same vision – to end human trafficking. In 2014 both organization merged to attack this crime head-on. Today 3Strands Global, Inc. is an organization established to combat human trafficking through sustainable employment, education and engagement initiatives. 3Strands provides jobs, raises funds, hosts Break Free Runs, builds awareness and provides Break Free Education and resources to fight human trafficking.

3 Strands Global:

  • Employs survivors and at-risk individuals by funding sustainable business initiatives; including training, product line expansion and marketing and distribution efforts
  • Educates high school, middle school, and college students about human trafficking, recognizing the signs and avoiding victimization through our evidenced based curriculum
  • Engages a worldwide community of individuals, organizations and communities through community events and awareness programs

2. Can you describe your own personal passion for ending human trafficking and how you came about to wanting to make this a big part of your life?

For me, it started some 4.5 years ago with a phone call that changed my life. I had long desired to be a foster parent, but my wife was not on the same page – so you can imagine my surprise when she called me at work and asked if I would consider hosting a young girl from Cambodia, a victim of sex trafficking.

Just three days later in February 2011, my wife and I met with Don and Bridget Brewster of Agape International Missions in Northern California. There were five girls that had been rescued from an American pedophile. Our government asked Don if the girls would testify and if so, they would be given the opportunity to stay in the U.S. if they had host families.  All five girls so bravely said yes and none wanted to return to Cambodia. This is where we came in. These brave girls had to relive the horrors they experienced at 9-12 years old through our justice system. My daughter of today, Kunthea, was the first to take the witness stand with a teddy bear under her arm and a rock in her pocket with the inscription, “The truth will set you free.” She is the bravest person I know and my hero. She reminds me everyday why I do what I do to work to end human trafficking, and now she has a desire to use her story – to help and encourage others, to do something and make a difference. She feels we can all do something to provide hope. Today, she is 21 finishing her 3rd college semester, studying Psychology.

Prior to 4.5 years ago, I like so many of us, didn’t know a thing about sex trafficking. If I did, I would have thought it just happened “OVER THERE.” When I learned that it was NOT just over there, but right here in every one of our cities – and that it’s the second largest criminal industry right behind drug trafficking – well that just infuriated me more!

3. What does a world without trafficking look like and mean to you?

The criminal business of trafficking would no longer continue to thrive because it would cease to generate enormous profits due to a lack of demand. Demand would no longer exist. The global community would join forces to ensure human trafficking would never, ever exist again.
3 Strands Bracelets to End Human Trafficking featured by popular Philadelphia blogger, Coming Up Roses

4.  How do you see local communities and younger teens reacting when you teach them through Break Free educational programs?

3Strands Break Free Education program raises awareness and educates students about human trafficking, so then those students can avoid being lured into the crime. Break Free Education developed a unique human trafficking curriculum for students and the program is a component of health and safety units currently taught in the high school and college curricula. To date, Break Free Education has delivered this instruction to more than 10,000 high school students throughout Northern California and delivered a slightly modified version of the program and material to college students in the greater Sacramento area, UCLA, and the University of San Diego.

Teenagers think they are invincible, and awareness is the best tool for prevention. Because human trafficking is not discussed, especially in the small towns, students are not aware of the problem, let alone that it could happen to them. We have also found the importance of educating all students on the consequences of becoming a trafficker. Research shows that a certain percentage of the students we teach will become exploiters and if we can educate both sides of the demand and supply equation we will have made an impact.

We have found the students to be engaging and incredibly responsive to the education program. Supplements to our success oftentimes come in the form of e-mails or comments from teachers or students. We have received comments such as:

“I never understood that trafficking happens in the United States. Now I do, and my eyes have been opened to the red flags.” 

“I want to be an abolitionist! This is just not ok!”

“I am going to sit down with my 13-year-old tonight and explain human trafficking. Thank you.”  

Our hope is that as we educate and make teenagers aware of human trafficking, they do not become victims or exploiters, and the need for restoration will drastically diminish.

5. How are the bracelets made?

The wax cord woven Cambodia bracelets are made at the AIM Employment Center in Cambodia. Each handmade bracelet is made and hand signed by survivors of human trafficking. The beaded Nepal bracelets are handmade as well.

Every 3 Strands product has a red seed or bead, which is representative of the victims of human trafficking.

6. Why Nepal and Cambodia as partners?

As I spent more time with Don Brewster of Agape International Missions and learned more about their work in Cambodia and the issue, I simply asked what he needed. He said, “Ken, we need jobs for these girls who in their culture after being rescued are considered trash – they need a good paying job that gives them hope for a future, dignity and self esteem.” We started with the girls in Cambodia making beautiful waxed cotton cord bracelets with a red seed on each hand-signed bracelet.

In the Nepal work center, women create beautiful beaded bracelets, providing employment, which aids in prevention efforts. These bracelets are now being sold all over the world.

3 Strands Bracelets to End Human Trafficking featured by popular Philadelphia blogger, Coming Up Roses

7. Do different colored bracelets hold different meanings?

What holds true meaning on every 3Strands bracelet is the red seed or the red bead. 3Strands’ initial bracelet line originated in Cambodia and featured a red seed. The red seed is significant to our cause and can be discovered if one looks into a Sandalwood seedpod, native to Cambodia. The colorless pods eventually dry up and fall to the ground and are forgotten, stepped over like trash and eventually blow away in the wind. But inside these dried up pods are beautiful, glossy, scarlet seeds that in their natural beauty, represents the beauty in each of the girls who have been freed, loved and empowered with a hope for the future. So it began in Cambodia, a vision of one red seed or representative red bead in every product that 3Strands offers reminding them and us of their intrinsic beauty.

8. What kind of impact would the purchase of one bracelet (or one set, etc.) have for the women you’re helping? 

Through the purchase of a 3Strands product, at-risk youth and survivors of sex trafficking are supported through rescue, rehabilitation/restoration and employment initiatives.

The purchase of bracelets helps continue in the rescue, rehabilitation, and restoration of victims in Cambodia. In Nepal, we provide fair wages and employment for the 300+ young women at-risk, preventing them from living on the streets.

9. Can you speak a bit more to the specific kinds of employment, restorative, and preventative services you provide to survivors?

3Strands funds and resources organizations that offer unique and effective approaches to fighting human trafficking including employment services to at-risk communities, restorative services to survivors, and preventative services for vulnerable and at-risk youth. 3Strands Global evaluates and funds a number of, prevention and restoration programs that are consistent with the organization’s mission. Over the past five years there have been 27 funded programs. 3Strands beneficiaries chosen this year include: 10ThousandWindows, AIM, Airline Ambassadors International, Breaking The Chains, City of Refuge, Freedom House, Glass Slipper, Generate Hope, Hoʻōla Nā Pua, International Rescue Committee Sacramento, San Diego Youth Services and Summitview.

10. What does your process look like for identifying at-risk youth or current victims and reaching out to ensure you can help?  

When we deliver Break Free Education in the classroom, we provide students with tools and tactics to identify those at-risk and human trafficking victims. Our educators receive rigorous training and we also welcome school administrators to attend our Break Free Education training program. When we deliver Break Free Education in the classroom, we have a social worker on call or at our training in case we need direct services and will often times team up with the FBI. We collaborate with these types of organizations because we want the resources available if direct services are needed and for the students to be aware of these resources and different perspectives as it relates to the crime of human trafficking.

In addition to the onsite education program, we provide every student with a tip cards that include signs of human trafficking and prevention tips to empower them to come forward if they or someone they know is being trafficked. It also includes resource numbers and the National Trafficking Hotline number.

Human trafficking signs include:

• Presence of an overly controlling boyfriend

• Inability to make eye contact

• Physical abuse/malnourishment

• No use of name

• Signs of drug use

• Fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous

• Few or no personal possessions

• Truancy/homelessness

• Knowledge of trafficking industry and associated slang

• An explicit online profile

3 Strands Bracelets to End Human Trafficking featured by popular Philadelphia blogger, Coming Up Roses

11. Why the name “3Strands”?

It’s from Ecclisiastes 4:12.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

12. How can everyday Joe Schmoes help out in a big way? Are there signs that people should be looking out for? How to alert authorities? Etc.

Everyone has the ability to Do Something to combat human trafficking. To combat human trafficking, 3Strands asks supporters to join the 3Strands community, shop with style and purpose to support survivors of human trafficking and those at-risk, participate in a Break Free Run – The Race to End Human Trafficking, host a Red Seed party, volunteer, or schedule Break Free Education in local schools. On a daily basis, there is so much that can be done to combat human trafficking.

All of these opportunities can be found at www.3StrandsGlobal.com

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Guys…how PUMPED do you feel now to join in and Do Something to play a part in ending human trafficking?!? I don’t know about you, but I feel so sad knowing the facts and breadth of human trafficking. With 3Strands, though, I’m energized and SO inspired knowing there is this amazing cause that cares enough about ending the torture, violence and enslavement once and for all that they donate the entirety of their being and business to the fight.

What’s your favorite cause to support? Do you want to get involved with 3 Strands bracelets?

Leave a comment down below letting me know if you’re digging this whole operation. I might be doing more involved work with this fabulous organization in the near future, and I would LOVE to get you all in on the action and have a whole bunch of us here working together to Do Something big.

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OTHER IMPORTANT RESOURCES:

Emergencies: 911

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 1.800.843.5678 (1.800.THE.LOST)

Homeland Security U.S., Canada and Mexico 866.347.2423

All other locations 802.872.6199

Trafficking Hotline:

24-Hour Confidential Help

Call 1.888.3737.888

Or text HELP or INFO

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