January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month – it’s time to learn how we can do something about slavery around the world!
(* Disclosure: I received a pair of PUNJAMMIES™ for free. Well, 2 actually, one from the lovely team at PUNJAMMIES™ , and one from The Man for Christmas!)
I’m having a bit of a struggle getting MYSELF back into a good routine after our long holiday break – the kids, they’re fine! I can crack the whip on them and they move, but me? I’m a whole ‘nother matter. We’ll get there, I know, it’s only the first week back! And it is truly, truly good to be back – we all crave that routine and the kids really enjoy their lessons, PLUS, we’re looking forward to some time on the slopes now that we have a bit of snow (but 30 below Celsius? That I could do without :p).
Speaking of being back, we’re also back with our weekly fair trade and ethical company feature for Purchases That Make a Difference. This week, I’d like you to meet:
The prerogative of a lazy weekend or holiday morning is spending it in pajamas. Well, actually, for that matter, a few of our homeschool days are spent in pajamas as well – just because we can! I have always been a sucker for comfortable pjs, and fun and cute ones for the kids! Our ongoing Christmas tradition since we became a family has been new Christmas pjs each year on Christmas Eve, and it’s a favourite of everyone’s!
After hearing about the amazing work that International Princess Project (recently rebranded as Sudara) is doing in the realm of women and children rescued from modern day slavery, I asked for a pair of PUNJAMMIES™ for Christmas – and are they ever the coolest, prettiest, most comfortable pajamas that you ever did see!
The fabric is 100% cotton, and feels on the border of being silky, and incredibly comfy. They fit on the hip with a drawstring, so they’re adjustable for whatever your needs may be.
I found the length to be perfect, as my pants always shrink up after the first wash! This is not the case with PUNJAMMIES™ , they stayed long after the wash, and I was so thrilled. They also come in a capri length if you prefer a shorter pant, and Punjammies stocks t’s and tanks to pair with your new pj pants.
The embroidery on the cuffs of these pants is just gorgeous!
These are one classy pair of pajama pants – but wait! You can actually wear them as normal clothes! Do you know what this means?! When I’m still in my pajamas at home and have to answer the door, I don’t actually look like I’m in my pajamas! But I’m so comfortable I feel like I’m in my pajamas. Wow. Mind. Blown.
Until starting this series in October, I really had no idea just how bad the numbers were for women, children, and yes, some men still in slavery (it’s more than 27 million in 161 countries. 27 MILLION). I had hardened my heart to the possibility, and allowed ignorance to dictate that there was nothing I could do.
While millions are enslaved, only 47,000 victims were brought to light last year, and conviction rates for traffickers are still unacceptably low. Even for the fortunate few who are rescued, resources for healing, and economic empowerment are limited, making it tremendously difficult for victims to break the cycle of exploitation.
How wrong I was! There is so much that we can do! For a start, find organizations that are working to rescue these women and girls from slavery, and support them through donations and prayer.
For another, make purchases from companies like International Princess Project, who not only support the work of freedom organizations, but take it a step further to provide opportunities and pathways to freedom; a safe place to heal and a fresh start for these beautiful rescued women.
The International Princess Project works to restore dignity and confidence in these women and girls – they are just some of the 3 million of those trafficked in India, who have been rescued.
“Believing that all humans share the dignity of God-created life, IPP cannot remain silent at these abuses, and we have entered the fight for justice as committed advocates on behalf of those enslaved.
As they work in the sewing centres, producing products, they are paid higher wages (even than fair trade) to cover their expenses and help them get into housing, provide medical care, and education for their children.
I had the awesome opportunity and tremendous blessing of interviewing the founder of IPP, Shannon Keith, and hearing from her just how PUNJAMMIES™ came to be and what motivated her to start the company. She also has some amazing words of wisdom for us in how we can play a big part in making change happen!
Pajamas seem to be the one thing that is difficult to find made fair trade. What sparked the idea for a company like PUNJAMMIES™?
“It was really a flash of inspiration sparked by the beautiful sari material I saw the women in India wearing. It was also a very pragmatic product solution that I felt was sustainable because the textiles of India are so gorgeous and plentiful and also the fact that the stitching was fairly simple. I figured pajamas/ lounge pants would be a great product for the ladies to learn and more easily master. Again that was an important factor for me because I wanted the women to have a great work experience and create something they could feel confident in and proud of. Had it been too difficult they may have felt defeated and not confident. PUNJAMMIES™ seemed to be the perfect solution considering all of these factors!”
How does International Princess Project work? What is the direct impact that is had?
“The greatest impact we have on the cause is helping to create sustainable jobs for women who wish to remain free from sexual slavery. Because abject poverty is one of the root issues of trafficking, all of the women have found themselves in the brothels because of lack of economic choice. Many were born into it [their mothers being forced prostitutes], sold into it, and others picked up off the streets by traffickers because they were orphans, etc.
However they became sex slaves, their only way out is sustainable employment so they can provide for themselves and their children [most have 2-3 children by various johns]. IPP partners with Indian organizations that work directly with this population of women and together we have them sew PUNJAMMIES™. We then import this beautiful product line and sell them online via our shop www.shopintlprincess.org .
When people buy PUNJAMMIES™ and become brand advocates, they too become part of the solution and are truly part of our team helping to end sexual slavery. The more products we can sell, the more women we can employ and the more the story of redemption, hope and ending slavery once and for all is possible!”
Aside from purchasing PUNJAMMIES™ how else can we be involved in the work you’re doing?
“Each and every person can be an advocate and brand ambassador. Word of mouth, grass roots and social media sharing about this issue & our viable business solution via PUNJAMMIES™ is the way we are going to get it done together. To really change lives and our world for good, the power of storytelling and sharing are both REALLY important elements in abolition. We are not only creating a lifestyle brand that ends sex trafficking- we are creating a movement.
Movements are born from a critical mass of people taking ACTION, not just sitting back being “informed” about the issue.”
What is the greatest challenge and greatest joy you have faced working with International Princess Project?
“There many times I feel great joy in this work but here are a few: 1) When I go to India and see the new lives that the women [& their children] are living. The juxtaposition from the hellish brothels to living in freedom, with dignified work, in loving community and PURE joy on their faces is exhilarating. You cannot put a price tag on that kind of life change. 2)When we get feedback from customers on how much they adore their PUNJAMMIES™- often raving that they are their new favorite thing—and then they share the message with others and they feel empowered that they are active participants in “being the change they wish to see in the world”. 3) When my children say they are proud of me for helping others out of slavery—that melts my mamas heart… (Tell me about it! having our children say they’re proud of us? Momentous!)
This work is wrought with many challenges. I don’t like to focus on them, but they are indeed a part of life and something we have to deal with on a daily basis. Changing the world is not easy, right? There are operational challenges, financial burdens of running a social enterprise business, etc., but honestly the hardest challenges for me is emotional. It is the gut wrenching feeling I get when I get news that one of the ladies in our sewing centers has died of AIDS because she contracted it so young in the brothels and it was too far advanced by the time she escaped the brothels for the antiretroviral drugs to be much help. Or when I am in the middle of a red light area and I look into the eyes of those still enslaved. That is the harsh reality of the world today. But it doesn’t have to be like that…”
What would you say to encourage others to change the way they shop and to make purchases that make a difference?
“I would encourage them with the truth that EVERY single purchase they make is a vote for or against freedom with their pocket books.
They may not think about the supply chain and who is on the other end of making the products they pick up off the shelves, but we all need to. We need to take the extra 5 seconds, apply some critical thinking skills and ask ourselves if we know or care about how this product was made. The answer to that simple question will lead you down two very different life paths. Another question that I think is valid is…’if you or a family member were a slave in making this product—how would you feel about people in Europe buying it?’”
Stay connected with International Princess Project and the work they’re doing: