Restoring Hope one Scrunchie at a time
Our set of 3 Hope Scrunchies have launched on our online store and we’d like to share the heart-warming story behind them. Not only are we practicing to reduce fabric waste and reusing what we already have, we’ve also connected with an amazing organization in the making of these scrunchies. Read as Madison Barefield shares the heart and action behind S-Cape and Not I but We.
S-Cape is a safe house for survivors of human trafficking, and the only human trafficking specific safe house in all of South Africa. We are celebrating 10 years of restoration this year, and over the past decade S-Cape has walked a journey of hope, healing and restoration with nearly 100 women.The heartbeat of S-Cape is to see victims of human trafficking free and safe from exploitation, healed and restored, empowered with life skills, and returning to a normal and sustainable life. We do this by offering a safe place which specializes in restoring women and children rescued from trafficking and sexual exploitation by providing shelter and food, health care, skills development, discipleship, counseling, legal and migration assistance and future orientation.
One of the main driving forces of trafficking is poverty, which is evident in the stories of the majority of the women S-Cape serves. A large percentage of residents we serve have been tricked into trafficking by false job promises or educational opportunities. Traffickers also prey on vulnerabilities, which is evident in the fact that the majority, if not all the women S-Cape has served, have experienced abuse starting at an early age. These factors, and others including addiction, violent home life or parentless families, systemic inequality and injustice with little to no access to adequate social services, provide a perfect storm for exploitation.
There is hope, however, despite the insurmountable odds. With many of the women at S-Cape never finishing matric, and some never even finishing primary school, we are faced with a unique challenge of ensuring our residents are reintegrated back into society equipped with all they need to live a “normal” sustainable life. Economic justice is a crucial piece in the restoration process. We want the residents to leave the safe-house with job experience, fully equipped with work skills, and/or a job so that they are never put into the same vulnerable situation that led many of them to be trafficked in the first place. From this deep desire to see survivors of exploitation empowered with skills, employment opportunities and dignifying work, Not I But We was born!
Not I But We is a social enterprise that provides skills development, job training and a just and fair income to survivors of human trafficking. A portion of our profit also goes back into the Restoration Program at S-Cape so that we can continue providing the highest quality services to the survivors we serve. Not I But We is on a mission to empower survivors of exploitation to create healing products that speak to their skills and history while providing dignifying work and an income. The residents undergo a 6 module social enterprise training curriculum, including a skills inventory. The training covers topics such as quality control, marketing, soft skills and how to grow your business, among other key topics. Throughout the course they practice making the different products, discovering what skills they need to improve on. After finishing the course they then can choose to participate in the social enterprise, in which they hand craft our range of products and are paid a living wage. This provides job training in a supportive environment and the ability for the residents to save money and learn how to budget while they are living in a safe and supportive environment. The ability to work, and to make money is empowering and meaningful. Dignifying work has a profound positive impact on life quality. This program aligns with a core tenet of our mission and vision, which is to empower residents with skills training and to see our residents living “new normal” and sustainable lives after they graduate from our program.
At the moment, Not I But We makes scrunchies, organic lip balm with certified therapeutic grade (CPTG) essential oils, masks, and diffuser bracelets. We are looking to expand and create more zero waste household products with CPTG essential oils as well as a hair care line. It has been such a fun journey over the past few months since we began, learning together, making mistakes and meeting so many incredible people, like Demi at Theophilia! We have people around the world wearing our scrunchies and lip balm, from South Africa to Germany to Holland and America. The residents have been incredibly eager to learn and are very proud of the products they create. It has been a bumpy ride at times, but seeing people wear products they hand crafted brings sparkles to all of our eyes. Most of the women we serve have been told their whole lives that they are worth nothing, that the world does not care about them, and that they are nothing but objects. We are changing that narrative. The survivors who hand craft each product are unique individuals with spunk, creativity, passion and vision. They are integral in imaging where Not I But We can go. They have dreams, hopes, songs and stories the world needs to hear. They have endured the most horrific circumstances, yet have emerged resilient, empathetic and determined to heal and learn each day what it means to live a wholehearted life.
We are so grateful for people around the world who use their purchasing power for good. The work of restoration takes all of us. Small changes like choosing to support local, women run businesses can have a profound impact on our society. Never underestimate your purchasing power, it is the small actions we take to embody forth a more loving, just, and beautiful society that transform our world. I am not me without you. I am not free until all are free. We need each other.
Words by: Madison Barefield
You can find out more at www.s-cape.org.za
Facebook: @notibutwecapetown (where you can find our Facebook Shop)