Rebecca McDonald is proof that one person can change the world.
After the horrifying rape of her fourteen-year-old friend, she embarked on a journey to give hope to the hurting and provide safe places for healing. In 2006, Women At Risk, International was born, and ever since, their programs and education have been sending light into those dark, forgotten corners of the world. Today, they have almost 200 projects in over fifty countries, and continue in their mission to “unite and educate to create circles of protection around those at risk through culturally sensitive, value-added intervention projects.”
And what exactly are those projects, you ask?
Get ready, because there’s a lot: domestic and international safehouses, vocational training, micro enterprise, education, orphanages, outreach, medical aid, and emergency intervention. Within these programs, there are people tirelessly working to offer hope and new life to those trapped in brothels, teaching at risk women marketable job skills, providing loving homes for rescued orphans, and educating their local community on how to fight against trafficking. If you would like to know more about each individual program and read survivors’ stories, visit the WAR website!
So, what does this have to do with me?
The amazing thing about WAR is that it gives you opportunities to fight trafficking in your everyday lives–like when you go shopping. Can I say that again?
You can fight trafficking by shopping.
Honestly, this is so cool for us ordinary people. The key, of course, is where you shop. The WAR Chest Boutique is the retail arm of WAR, International, and this is the place where you can buy handmade jewelry, home decor, spa products, and so much more. I love walking into these shops, because I’m instantly surrounded by artistry from all over the world. Not everything is inexpensive, but you don’t have to feel guilty about spending those extra dollars, because 90% of all earnings is used to fight against trafficking. Whether it’s a pair of crystal pendant earrings, ginger lime lotion, or a banana fiber change purse, each product is made by at-risk or rescued women.
Empowering at-risk women is one of the keys to fighting human trafficking. If we can create ways for vulnerable, desperate women to provide for themselves without selling themselves, then the battle is already half-won. So come on in and check out these beautiful, unique items, and if there’s no boutique near you, you can shop online!
To take a step further, you can host your own WAR Chest pop-up boutique, attend a civilian first responder training, become a prayer WAR-rior, or join a Circle Tour. There’s something for everyone!
Are you a coffee-lover?
What a question, right? Who doesn’t? Well, me. But that’s beside the point. The point is, you can also drink coffee to fight trafficking. Or you can be like me and drink hot chocolate.
Anyway, another arm of WAR, International, the Tea Trade Café, opened on 44th St this past September, and this gem of a place has a two-fold purpose. First, every purchase supports the domestic and international programs of WAR, and second, this café serves as a safe place for survivors to learn barista and business skills. All of their coffee, tea, and chocolate are fair trade, meaning that artisans make a sustainable income and work in safe environments.
It’s a cute little place to meet with friends, work on your latest creative project, or do homework. The staff is super friendly and ready to help you with whatever you need, and of course, the sweet treats are delicious. You may even be treated to local artists playing live–check out the café’s Facebook page for updates. While I was there, I was privileged to hear a harpist play.
When you’re done sipping, you can go shopping!
The café connects to a WAR Chest Boutique, so if you have any last minute Christmas shopping to do, the Tea Trade Café is the perfect place to snag those gifts and then relax with a cup of tea and a scone! So, check it out, and let your everyday activities become an avenue to empower trafficking survivors and support women at risk so they can work and create with dignity.