Let’s face it, we all have a graveyard of bras we don’t wear anymore or that never fit properly in the first place, right? Well, that’s exactly what Kimba Langas and her friend David Terpstra were thinking about when they founded Free The Girls, an organization dedicated to providing a better future for women with an entrepreneurial solution. We know that bras offer women “support”, but Free The Girls takes it to a whole new level.
An Emmy-award winning producer and 20-year veteran of the television and video production industry, Kimba has always had a passion for storytelling. Just two short years ago, though, the story of modern day slavery and sex trafficking wasn’t even on her radar. When her friend David approached her as a partner for a new organization he wanted to form to empower survivors of sex trafficking, she was intrigued. Little did she know how it would change her life.
Free The Girls partners with safe houses and after-care facilities that help rescue women from a life of prostitution in Mozambique, Africa. They provide the women with an opportunity to earn a living by selling second-hand bras, which creates a sustainable income that makes them less vulnerable of being trafficked again.
Today, over 25 million men, women and children are being held as slaves around the world, with 80% of those slaves being women and girls. “Most of the women we work with were sold into prostitution as children, only 8-10 years old. Because their lives were stolen from them, they missed out on going to school and getting an education. Girls can make 5x the minimum wage by selling bras,” explains the organization’s website. Bras have become a mechanism to provide women a means to support themselves, while trying to reclaim their lives.
Leaving her previous career behind, Kimba is now a different kind of storyteller. As the Executive Director of Free The Girls, she is responsible for the day-to-day U.S. operations of the organization, which includes speaking to women’s groups on the subject of human trafficking and the stories of the women it affects, raising funds for the cause, and packing and shipping thousands of bras. Dave, the team’s International Director, moved to Mozambique with his family where he works with survivors and the group’s partnerships.
Since the organization’s inception in 2010, Free The Girls has collected and delivered over 80,000 gently used bras from women all over the world. “I hope to serve as an example that global change requires people from all types of backgrounds to step up and offer what they can where they are,” says Kimba. And we couldn’t agree more!
Free The Girls is launching new pilot programs in 4 more locations in 2013, here are some simple ways you can get involved:
- Send Free The Girls a gently used bra or two
- Ask friends, family, or coworkers to donate bras at your next book club or cocktail party
- Host a bra drive or fundraiser in your community
- Ask a local retailer to become a bra drop-off location