Get Involved: Free the Girls

November 8 2012, 11:00 AM

Bras. Some women love them, some women hate them, and most of us spend way too much money on them. If you're like me, you have at least five that you never even wear, yet take up vital storage space in your dresser. Rather than throw them away, I found a way to repurpose my surplus bras for a good cause. 

Free the Girls (FTG) is a local nonprofit that provides job opportunities to women who have been rescued from sex trafficking. Dave Terpstra, a Denver pastor who does missionary work in Mozambique, started the organization less than two years ago with co-founder Kimba Langas after he saw a street vendor whose cart was adorned with hanging bras. Curious, he did some research and discovered that bras command top dollar in Africa's second-hand clothing industry.

Here's how it works: FTG collects bras and distributes a starting inventory to the trafficking survivors, all of whom are now living in safe houses. Many of the women have three hurdles to overcome in securing employment: They are HIV positive, they have no education (since some of them were trafficked at a very young age), and they have children. After receiving 100 donated bras to begin their businesses, the women buy inventory from FTG below market value (that money then pays for more bras to be shipped). On average, women in the program make three times the average daily wage in Mozambique—which is more than enough to support their families and never be trafficked again.

FTG's mission resonates not just in Colorado, but worldwide. Shipments began as a couple hundred bras at a time stuffed in large suitcases; in July, the organization sent its first shipping container to Mozambique, packed with 32,000 bras from around the world.

Get Involved: FTG has several ways you can help out:

1. Hold your own bra drive or put out a collection bin at your office, church, or school. 

2. Become an "event concierge" to respond to emails and perform data entry and scanning tasks. 

3. Work booths at local events  to help spread the word  about FTG via grassroots networking.

4. Buy a Free the Girls t-shirt (it's a great conversation starter). 

5. FTG receives between 500 and 1,000 bras each week. Lend a hand to help process and sort the growing inventory. 

For more information, contact Free the Girls.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow digital assistant editor Davina van Buren on Twitter at @davinavanburen or on Pinterest