Sudara exists to advocate on behalf of and empower women who have escaped from, or are at the highest risk of, human trafficking by providing dignified employment opportunities. It's not an easy mission by any means. Yet, every day we wake up even more energized, even more passionate, and with even more fight in our step because we see and know that lives are changing. Here's what inspires us to keep going:
1. We believe that people are not property.
No human being should be owned by anyone, anywhere, for any reason -- ever. We will not back down on that fact. It is what drives us to be abolitionists and stand for freedom. It also forms the foundation of our dignified, living wage employment model. Every woman in a Sudara sewing center earns wages that are, on average, double the fair-trade baseline for her work.
2. We believe that women are strong.
Many of the women at the Sudara sewing centers have endured great physical and psychological trauma throughout their life. They have come to the sewing centers to heal, to find a safe haven, and to create a new life for themselves and their children. They inspire us daily with their resiliency and their strength. And, each pair of PUNJAMMIES™ is named after one of the women to honor her bravery and celebrate her freedom.
3. We believe that education is power.
The women who come to a Sudara sewing center are not the only ones who receive care -- their children can also live in safe housing and receive an education while staying connected to their mother. And, this is the cycle-breaking change we are passionate about. An education affords a child a completely different type of future than they would have otherwise known; it's a chance, a choice, an opportunity to live in freedom. And, this is the sort of momentum that erodes systemic poverty and human objectification at its root.
4. We are moved by the complexity and beauty of India.
Human trafficking manifests itself in particular ways in every nation and culture, but India presents a unique situation in which we feel compelled to intervene. Despite legal prohibition, it is the country with the highest number of trafficked persons world-wide. And, it is estimated that there are 3 million sex workers there. In spite of these sometimes overwhelming facts, India is also a country of great beauty. Our products are meant to reflect the patterns and textures seen in the local culture and throughout the country.
5. We believe in the freedom that comes by having a choice.
In addition to learning a skilled-trade such as sewing PUNJAMMIES™, the women have access to job training and placement services. These opportunities afford them the freedom to choose their own pathways. Some choose to become skilled tailors and open their own business, while others choose to become beauticians; a few of the women have also gone on to college or nursing school. We love hearing their stories after they graduate from the centers -- there is an ever-growing confidence in their voice as they talk about the great hope they now have for their future.