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Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Restoring Hope to Victims of Sex Trafficking

by | Artisans

East Asia

Read Time: 3 min.

Mae is an Artisan in Asia who makes jewelry for Trades of Hope. As a child, her parents forbade her to go to school. Her brothers could go to school, but her parents thought it was a waste of time and money for girls to get an education.

Mae’s Story of Hope

“When every semester started, I remember clearly that seeing the other kids go to school would always make me so sad. I could do nothing but hide myself and cry. Whenever I was free, I would stand at the gate of the school trying to listen to what the teacher was saying. I admired those students. I hoped I could learn things like them one day.” – Mae

We don’t know the specifics of how Mae arrived in the brothels. Others in her situation boarded very long and overcrowded trains, not by choice. Their families sent them off to work and send money back to provide. They did not know this “work” would be sex trafficking!

Can you imagine your own family tricking you into such a horrific situation?

Thankfully, someone approached Mae and the others with much more honorable intent. Someone willing to help them out of their nightmare. The rescued go to a shelter. For some, this is their first safe, sanitary environment with dependable food and care. They receive medical services provided by volunteer doctors. Many have significant medical needs, having had 5-10 abortions – not of their own choice.

Women of Dignity

Trades of Hope’s goal is to help these young women become empowered, independent women.

We do this by creating sustainable jobs for their future. Training is available so they can learn how to read and write; both in their native language and English. Girls from ages 16-60 have learned to read for the first time in this program!

The job training is critical. Everyone starts in jewelry production and many advance to other fields. Some study accounting, photography, inventory, and production management.

Most of all, they are not viewed as trafficking victims. They are women with dignity who have incredible gifts to give the world and treated as such! In time, they also begin to see themselves in this way and come alive again.

Creators of Beauty

Mae never thought she would get the chance to study, especially as an adult. Since becoming an Artisan, Mae’s pursued many opportunities she wouldn’t otherwise have. She’s learned how to read and write in her native language and is studying English and computers. Mae is very thankful for her amazing teachers.

“Now, I realize that my dreams have come true. I never thought I would have the chance to study, especially for a woman at my age.” – Mae

This sustainability is possible when women in America support Trades of Hope. YOU can be part of redemptive stories such as Mae’s. Shop, host a party, or become a Trades of Hope Partner or Affiliate today to empower women out of brothels and other desperate situations.

*Trades of Hope is excited to celebrate this update from our Artisan partners in East Asia about Mae:

Mae is known for being our fastest person on the production line! She can construct new jewelry faster than everyone and loves producing tassel earrings. Whenever we have a new design, Mae is the first one to create it and helps teach other women on our production team.

Trades of Hope is partnering to restore hope to sex trafficking survivors in East Asia.

More East Asia Blogs

Click on each photo below to discover more about our Artisan partners and products in EAST ASIA.

Bai, Artisan in East Asia

Bai’s Story of Hope in East Asia

Women Rescued from Brothels in East Asia

Fashion as a Force for Good, Chenny’s, Li Ya’s, & Hong Fay’s Stories of Hope in East Asia

Fay’s Story of Hope in East Asia

Helping Women in East Asia Heal From the Trauma of Sex Trafficking

Helping Women in East Asia Heal From the Trauma of Sex Trafficking

Ling, Artisan in East Asia

How Sisterhood is Rescuing Women from Brothels in East Asia

Lan, Artisan in East Asia

Lan’s Story of Hope in East Asia

Fay, Artisan in North Asia

Stories of Hope in East Asia – Trades of Hope

Share this story!


  1. Karen Caswell

    This is such important work. Thank you for creating the opportunity to make a difference!

    • Elisabeth Huijskens

      Thank you, Karen, for your kind heart for our Artisan partners and our mission. This work is a privilege of a lifetime. We couldn’t do it without women like you.

  2. Barbara Winkler

    Wow! What a beautiful story of rescue and restoration to dignity!

    • Elisabeth Huijskens

      It truly is. We couldn’t be a part of their transformational story with out our amazing customers, hostesses and partners!


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Barbara DeSouza

Barbara DeSouza

Barb has held several roles at Trades of Hope in the past 8+ years, but none fit this entrepreneur's style like her role in our Marketing/Communications team. Best known as her alter-ego, "Barbara Hope" in the Partners' Facebook world, Barb infuses quirky dry humor to punctuate her posts and can also be found lightening tensions with a well-placed sarcastic GIF when the group's collective estrogen level is peaking. 😉 She is passionate about coffee, grammar, music, creating, and is utterly smitten with her grandbabies, who teach her to slow down and be present for the blessings while they remind her why creating a better future falls on the shoulders of each one of us.