We are in the business of Freedom!

Omrita's* Story

Before I started at Freeset I had many problems. Sometimes I didn't eat. I worried about my baby's future and her study. 


Now working at Freeset I have fewer problems. My family is good, the Freeset family is good. Kerry and Annie are always alongside us and help if we have problems. 

My first responsibility is to teach the new girls who don't know the work what they have to do. Some girls are good sewers, others aren't so I get the good sewers to help the others. We need good sewing so we can make beautiful bags. 

There are many kinds of jobs here sewing, packing cartons, printing, marking sometimes mistakes are made and that creates tension. My job is to help the women understand the quality we need - if printing is not right, if sewing is not right, if the strap is not good enough then we can't use it. They all need to understand what kind of work we need. I want more girls to learn how to sew, to learn about the machines and if the bobbin tension is not right then to be able to see that in their sewing and fix it. 

Our production is for export so we need good quality sewing. We hope that those who come and visit will help create more sales for us. We are growing now - we have a new building used for making T-shirts. We want our company to grow, so more girls can find freedom - those girls who wait in line. 

Mostly we are happy and have fun at work. Our ladies are good. Our family is good. Our work is beautiful. If I growl at them they get angry at me, but mostly we are happy. 

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Shruti's* story

 

I can't tell you how old I am I don't know. Before I started work at Freeset, life was very tough. Day after day I would stand in line. On the days when customers didn't come, I didn't eat. More...


My life was so very hard. When my father and mother died I had to pay for their funerals and then my grandmother died and I had to pay for that too. 

I had a man, but he left me. I had to provide for my brother and mother. Whatever I had in the bank I had to get out and pay for the family. 

I gave my grand-daughter for marriage. I paid for the wedding - I had to pay for it all - all the Bengali customs and money for her dowry too. I gave her in marriage but it was not good, there was a lot of fighting and arguments. But whatever happened, happened she is married now. 

I came to work at Freeset so I could provide for myself and my family and my grandchildren. I used to pray to God to help me leave the line and he has helped me and shown me the right road. God gave me this job and now I am healthy. 

People look at me and see I'm fat and think I'm OK, because I am well fed. But if my family has no peace, then my mind is not at peace. So Kerry and Mina visited my grand-daughter and then gave her work at Freeset. God has provided - now there are two wages for the family it is easier. 

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Ashoka's* story

 

I make bags, but I'm not very good at making the finished bag. I sew the sides of bags and I also supervise tea breaks. More...


Occasionally I go out visiting brothels. I try to explain to girls that standing in line is not the only option - they can get regular wages. They say, "But what can we do?" I tell them, there was a time I also stood on the line. 

My life is good, now it is very good. Sometimes I remember I was in the line, but now I'm not and I like that. I come to work with my head held high - with no shame. I've given up the line, I have freedom and peace. I can talk with everyone and tell them that my life is healthy. Now if normal ladies come to visit my area, I can sit down with them and eat with them - I enjoy this. I have found great freedom. I'm able to mix with anyone. 

It takes me about half an hour by bus to travel to work, then 15 minutes to walk. I don't take the auto-rickshaw every day because I don't want to pay another fare. It's 6 Rupees (20c) up and down by auto, so I just walk and go by bus. 

I want to give God thanks. Jesus has taken me far from my old life. God has given me good things - health, peace, a good husband, good family. There's no more fighting or arguments. My husband doesn't drink anymore - he only eats things like pan (giggles). 

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Piyali's* story

 

When my husband left me, I went back to live with my mother at the time my son was 9 months old. Mum said I needed to get some work and she spoke with a friend who then took me to Freeset. More...


At Freeset, Kerry and Priya sat and talked with me and they said they'd give me work. I went home and told my Mum I had a job and it paid 1600 rupees a month. I worried about whether I could manage to work and earn enough for my son so he could grow up to be a man. 

Slowly I understood that if I worked well, then I could manage my finances too. I could save some money to buy milk for my son so my Mum could look after him while I was training. I realized I needed to stay and work at Freeset so my son would be cared for and would grow up well. 

I learned to sew bags. At first I was very frightened, I couldn't make good bags. I was given extra time to learn and someone sat with me for days helping me - now I can make good bags. I have learned to sew all the different parts of the bags. 

I like work, it's good. I was very frightened, but now I have no fear and no worries. I can sew well now, my wage is better too and my son has good food and is growing up well. He's learning to read and write well. 

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Debi's* story

 

My mother's life as a sex worker was very hard, but she did it for us (my brother and I). There were customers in our room all the time which was hard. Because of this, it was difficult to study when I was young. I had to stay outside and play in the street with friends. It was really hard. More...


When I got older it got even worse - many customers wanted me. That's when I thought, If I could just grow up and get married I could get away from this, but my mother didn't have enough money to give me in marriage. I couldn't study because of the room situation and when I was home I had to help around the house so I couldn't study even then - so I knew study wasn't for me. I thought it would be good if I could find a job, then I could have money for myself - enough money for my own marriage. 

At first I didn't know there was a factory at the Freeset building, I just played outside because of customers in our room. I saw Kerry coming and going from Freeset, then one day I asked him if I could have a job and he said, "OK, come." 

Freeset solved lots of my problems. First I was able to get married. I didn't need to stay in my room all day - I was away at work for 8 hours - that was great. I got a salary, which meant slowly I could save. I didn't have a bank account at first, but I was able to get one and start saving. Freeset helped me to save lots of money. 

I used my own money to get married. I didn't take any money from my mother. Where would she have got it? Because of my job at Freeset, I was able to help my mother, which meant she didn't need to have so many customers. 

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Chitta's* story

 

My husband died 10 years ago. I was trying to provide for my children. I worked for an NGO for 7 years without being paid. Mina said, "Freeset is starting and it is different" so I came to work at Freeset. At that time I didn't have anything. I didn't have power or a meter, and no fan. More...


Since starting at Freeset I have been able to paint my room. I now have electricity and a fan that Freeset gave me and put up for me. Mostly I have no problems, I have work and I don't have fear that I can't pay my debts. There are other things that I need, but I only get what I can afford. If I had more pay it would be better but it is a lot better than before. 

I want our work to do well. I want girls to work well so we can grow to 500 girls. Sometimes I'm asked about Freeset - I tell people it is a factory where women from the brothels can get work and find freedom. 

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* All names have been changed.