Freeset is in it’s 14th year of business. Yes, it’s a little bit different than most businesses, but I have to say there’s nothing like being part of a business that is about freedom.
For tens of thousands of women in our part of the world prostitution is a way of life simply because they have no choice. Poverty does that kind of thing. It allows others to exploit them in the worst possible ways - simply because they have no choice. That’s where Freeset comes in – giving choice to women, through a dignified job that brings hope in the context of a loving and caring community on a freedom journey. And it’s been a good journey so far for a few hundred women at Freeset - we really have something to celebrate. But this celebration is balanced by a sobering reality.
You see, this problem’s a big one. Our community, has thousands of women who need the choice to be free. That’s why Freeset, with the blessing of other freedom businesses is committed to taking the next step by moving right into the gateway of Sonagacchi, one of the worlds largest redlight areas. It’s a natural step for us because it’s always been about relationships. We’re committed to living with and loving our neighbors so they will have the choice of freedom.
So when we saw a building for sale right at the gateway we got excited! It’s solid, sound and it’s big, really big. It’s exactly what we’re looking for and the location couldn’t be more perfect. With more than 20,000 square feet this building has the potential to facilitate freedom for many. It’ll give us the chance to employ more women not just by growing one business but by helping others to start new freedom businesses - offering choice to more and more women. There will be space for services we’ve been dreaming about for years; community healthcare, counseling, budgeting advice, literacy, school sponsorship and placement , a day care center, all the things necessary for holistic freedom for our community.
We have the vision and a little bit of experience from all we’ve learned on our 14 year journey. What we don’t have is enough money to buy the building by the 30th of June this year. Will you help us make this vision become a reality?
UPDATE: The building has been purchased! Freeset still needs money to pay off the building as well as provide other services.
In 1999, my wife and I left New Zealand to move to Kolkata with a very broad goal: to help the poor and the needy. After naively leasing an apartment right beside Sonagacchi—the largest red light area in the city— our goal became much clearer: to give women forced into prostitution by trafficking and poverty the choice of freedom. This was the beginning of Freeset; a self-sustaining fair trade business offering employment to women who are trapped in Kolkata's sex trade.
Over the past three years we’ve learned a lot about labor abuse, human trafficking and how spending money thoughtfully can create a huge impact. Here are some of the questions I'm asked most frequently and what I understand today!