Fan’s hands move quickly – the kind of speed that comes with confidence and talent – as she snips and brushes her customer’s hair. Just as she’s adding the finishing touches, the woman in the chair smiles, happy with Fan’s work.
“Very beautiful,” the woman says.
Fan glances up at the clock and smiles as well. It is still early in the day and there are many more customers to come. Cutting hair and making women feel beautiful brings Fan joy. She sometimes wishes the clock would stop entirely, so she could spend as much time in the salon as possible.
She then thinks back to other clocks, hanging on other walls, in places she’d been before. Placed not far away from where she is now.
Like the building two blocks away, where just three years ago, she would look up at the clock every night, hoping that it would move faster and finally bring an end to the night.
Trafficked into a brothel, she would sit in a row of young women on a bench, her face caked uncomfortably in makeup, staring up at that clock.
The hands moved so slowly. Fan questioned if they were even moving at all. Sitting there, feeling so alone, she still held onto the hope that each piece of the clock would work together perfectly to bring the night to an end.
Each gear with each cog rotating at a steady pace. Tiny pieces with tiny movements, all working together in unity.
Fan would ponder her past when each tiny movement only brought pain. Her parents forced her to drop out of school to provide for her favored younger brother’s education. The struggle she endured trying to find a job in an unfamiliar city with no education or experience. The boyfriend who promised he could provide a life of love and luxury, only to manipulate her into prostitution.
It was in that brothel that we met Fan, sitting on that bench watching the clock.
Our interaction was brief under the watchful eye of the brothel’s Madam. We gave Fan a Christmas gift, along with our Outreach phone number. A few weeks later, she contacted us. She wanted to leave the brothel. She remembered we had mentioned a job opportunity making jewelry, and she was excited because she loved handicrafts.
Worldwide, it is estimated that 40.3 million people are currently in slavery, just like Fan was.* In an ideal world, the justice system would be steady and synchronized like a clock on a wall, small pieces making a larger system work. Checks and balances would move gears forward toward freedom and justice for all.
On Outreach, we witness what happens when the system is corrupted and broken. This is what it looks like when the cogs of justice grind to a halt. Each week, our team walks past Fan’s former brothel in an area we call the “Justice District.” It’s an alias to remind us of what we strive to see there, but it’s also the literal name of the street that runs right through the heart of the area – “Justice Street” in the local language.
But justice here is blocked by the very things that should defend it. On one side of the area stands an ominous high-security jail with several police stations nearby. On the other, temples and churches sit along the streets – yet no voices call out to restore justice.
It wasn’t always this way. Over a century ago, a group of women came together and opened a safe house called Door of Hope, to harbor women who escaped the local brothels. It was a sanctuary and a chance for a fresh start. This legacy inspires us to continue pressing forward, to actually bring justice to the “Justice District.”
Our work now continues the legacy of those women. As our Outreach team continues to visit those dark streets every week, each step we make is a small cog moving toward changing a broken system.
When we help someone like Fan escape, the gears turn and the clock hands tick toward a time when justice will prevail.
After three years, Fan graduated from Eden’s program. She received counseling, art therapy, and her vocational training that helped place her in the hair salon where she now works. Fan also worked as one of Eden’s trainers for young women when they started making jewelry; she patiently taught each new team member the basic skills needed to handmake beautiful jewelry.
Her time with Eden propelled a change and transformation that has helped her and others. Recently, Fan’s 17-year-old cousin was trafficked by a loverboy pimp. When Fan found out, she brought her to Eden as soon as she could.
Fan’s success and dedication inspire us to continue our work. There are still millions trapped in this broken system worldwide, and still so many stuck in the Justice District. Like a clock on a wall, there are many moving parts behind this system. Fixing each piece, putting the right gears in place, making the hands move forward again, cannot wait. The time is now.
By purchasing pieces from this collection, you are supporting our efforts in the Justice District, enabling us to keep going back week after week. Your support and your efforts joined with ours, help move the cogs of justice and brings hope to women just like Fan.
*ILO, 2017. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery:
Forced Labour and Forced Marriage.