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3Strands bracelets help Cambodian women escape sex trafficking
From staff reports | Published: August 29, 2012
You can buy an unusual accessory while helping women who have been rescued from sex trafficking.
Apricot Lane Boutique, an Oklahoma City fashion boutique, now sells 3Strands handmade bracelets and gift boxes. For each set sold, money is donated to Agape International Mission (AIM) in Cambodia, a faith-based organization started by the founders of Apricot Lane that “rescues and restores” these victims.
The wax-cotton woven bracelets with the signature 3Strands metal closure are handmade by the rescued women. Each bracelet is made to remind the wearer of the trafficking survivor who made it.
The pieces of cord comprising the bracelet symbolize the freedom, love and empowerment these women experience because of the support they receive from programs such as AIM. The incorporation of a single red string, barely visible inside the center of each bracelet, illustrates the souls of these young women and how they are practically invisible to those who have bought and sold them in the past.
Every handmade bracelet displays one fragile, red seed from the pods of sandalwood trees, native to Cambodia, reminding these young women of their beauty within as they sign their name to each bracelet. One would never know that these gorgeous seeds come from colorless pods, which eventually dry up, fall to the ground and are trampled under foot. The pods and seeds help these women and the individuals who buy the bracelets remember that things seen as worthless often actually contain something priceless.
3Strands was initially created to fund the Agape Training Center, operated by AIM in Cambodia, which teaches women older than 16 years skills to be empowered in the workplace and allows them to be financially stable after being rescued by AIM from human trafficking (sexual slavery). A recent documentary called “The Pink Room” (http://thepinkroommovie.com) focuses on the efforts of AIM and has received awards and recognition by international film festivals.
“When I first learned about the lives of sexual slavery these women were facing each and every day, I was moved to do something to make a difference,” said Cristi Hargroves, owner of Apricot Lane Boutique. “AIM is doing an incredible job rescuing young girls and women from the grips of human trafficking. Their rehabilitation center is helping the survivors heal, and our role is to give them sustainable, well-paying work once they are ready to reintegrate into their culture with honor and dignity.”
Apricot Lane Boutique has locations in Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City and Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa.