Posted on March 29, 2021 by Inka Mathew

“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God.” // Colossians 2:2 (The Message)

The crime of human trafficking happens all over the world. Southeast Asia is no exception. We came across the work of Woven International, an anti trafficking organization that is dedicated to breaking the cycle of human trafficking in Southeast Asia through safe homes, education and work opportunities.

139Made had the pleasure to do a written interview with Woven International to find out  more about this organization and the amazing work they do in Southeast Asia.

Q:  When was Woven International started, and what sparked the birth of this organization?

A:  13 years ago, two local women in Southeast Asia, Noi* and Bee*, began praying for their country and to understand God’s call and mission for their lives. Their prayers led them to Kieli*—a woman experiencing terminal cancer. Kieli had a dying request for Noi and Bee: that they rescue her 8-year-old daughter.

The daughter had been abused by her uncle who then sold her into human trafficking. Noi and Bee sprang into action, found Kieli’s daughter, and welcomed her into one of their homes for safety. In their loving care, Kieli’s daughter was able to find hope, healing and rehabilitation from her trauma.⁠ Woven was ignited by her life.

Led by faith from the very beginning, our founders knew that this was God’s project, and He has proven this time and time again.

We've been supporting girls’ healing journeys out of sexual exploitation ever since, and our programming has expanded over the past 13 years. Today, Woven provides safe housing, invests in creating safe community, and facilitates safe work training and opportunities. These things, along with holistic care for the entire mind, body and spirit, support young women as they work through trauma, reclaim their youth, and learn their true identity as daughters of Jesus.

Since that day 13 years ago, the impact of this ministry has grown from one girl finding healing and a home, to 4 safe homes now supporting 45 girls.

To date, 75 girls have graduated and over 400 women have traveled through or have been a part of our safe homes. We have had personal conversations with over 650 women at risk. Each year we also see hundreds of men, women and children participate in our outreach and prevention training across the country as our team provides education on trafficking and unsafe migration.

We know God has so much more planned than we can ever imagine, and we see glimpses of a beautiful orchestration of these things already. This is only the beginning.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Q:  Could you share with us what are the ways in which Woven International is combatting human trafficking in Southeast Asia?

A:  At Woven, we work to both support the healing journeys of young women impacted by trauma and abuse and break the cycle of human trafficking through upstream interventions.
We do this through:
providing safe housing for women and girls who have been impacted by trauma, abuse and/or exploitation
creating businesses that provide safe jobs for vulnerable people
 providing educational and vocational training opportunities
 preventing and raising awareness of sex trafficking locally in Southeast Asia
 sharing the hope found in the gospel of Christ
 community outreach and prevention efforts  (click to find out more)

We are committed to not only reacting to the issue of human trafficking but preventing it. To do this we make sure to include an upstream approach in all of our efforts. These approaches include poverty reduction, vocational training, and business expansion in an effort to create opportunities for local believers and ensure that the women and children we care for have safe work. Our safe work projects include: a café, an organic farm, a hair and beauty salon, and a jewellery business. The hair salon and jewellery business provide safe work specifically to the girls in our safe homes. All of the upstream work we do is done alongside addressing the acute and emergent needs of girls at risk.⁠

Q:  From your experience so far, what would you say is the toughest challenge for your team in helping survivors of trafficking?

A:  This is a difficult question, and its answer has many layers. Caring for individuals impacted by trauma is complex and multifaceted. Our main struggle in caring for survivors of and those at risk of human trafficking is in our limited capacity as a project and as a team.

From an infrastructure standpoint, we can only care for the number of girls we have room for. We currently have 4 safe homes with the capacity to house 50 girls, although the need for safe housing in our project country is greater than this.

From a human resource perspective, we also face challenges with our local team working at and often beyond their capacity. The girls in our safe homes are cared for by an amazing team of local women who have made great sacrifices to be there.

The vicarious trauma experienced by these team members is a common struggle that we must recognize when determining our capacity to house new girls.

The need for local staff and caregivers is great as we can only accept the number of girls in our program that our staff can healthily care for.

Most non-profits struggle with limited funds, and Woven is no exception. We work to make the most of every dollar that comes into our project, whether by donation or revenue from our safe work businesses.


Q:  Could you share with us a favorite story of victory that Woven International has witnessed?

A:  We have countless stories of miraculous transformations in the lives of girls coming into our safe homes, from returning to brothels to pull out their friends, to girls returning to their villages sharing about Jesus and raising awareness about the dangers of human trafficking. The following story is one of our most recent stories of victory.

Story from one of our beneficiaries:

*Heuang moved into one of our safe homes as a young girl. Like many of the girls in our program, Heuang’s family had limited resources and the details of Heuang’s life situation left her at great risk. Thankfully, one of her family members brought her to our main office in the city and connected her with our team.

In our safe home, Heuang was able to go to school and live in safe community. We celebrate today not only because Heuang recently graduated from high school, but also because she completed a five-month sewing program! She has found new purpose and joy in these skills, and even practiced making clothing for the other girls in the house to wear.

Heuang is now relocating to one of our safe homes in another part of the country. She wants to teach other girls the same skills she has learned and empower them to earn an income through safe and dignified work. In the future and with the help of the other girls, they will open a small business out of their home! It is wonderful to see the girls working together in this way.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy

Q:  What are the current needs of Woven International? How can we, the everyday person, support you in fighting human trafficking?

A:  Shop with purpose by purchasing Woven jewellery: Many of the women in our safe homes earn an income by making jewellery by hand. Buying their creations not only supports their journey, but also provides a powerful testament that individuals can wear every day.
To shop their gorgeous handmade jewellery, CLICK HERE.

A huge need is prayer. Every person can pray, and it truly makes a difference.

Businesses: each of our four local businesses (café, organic farm, hair salon, and jewellery store) are struggling financially with the lack of tourism due to COVID. Pray for financial favour and business acumen.
Local and international staff: As mentioned before, we struggle with limited human resources. Both our local team and our foreign team work hard to both care for the girls in our safe homes and keep the businesses running while also raising awareness of human trafficking throughout the country. We have a small team of passionate individuals working in SE Asia, and it can feel lonely and exhausting. Pray for energy, encouragement, and for God to increase our team with the right people.
Our building campaign: See details below. We would greatly appreciate prayer for this project.

    Financial Partnership: we are always looking for more financial partners.
    Women who are marginalized often lack formal education and opportunities to find work. Without access to job training and life skills, women are coerced into exploitative work environments to make a living. In order to build autonomous lives, women need vocational training, career counseling and educational resources. Our region lacks a training centre where each woman can be welcomed and supported on her unique road to recovery. Our solution and dream is to open a vocational training centre to empower women to gain skills in personal finance, critical thought, and personal health while gaining employment experience. Students can currently study within our vocational program in the areas of beauty, sewing, jewellery or culinary arts. If the interests of a participant don’t fit within these areas, we connect with the private sector to find relevant workplace training and employment.
    • Ideally, our training centre would include a small clinic to serve women who have exited dangerous work situations. Woven clinic staff would run outreach activities, provide health education in high-risk communities, and support women in living healthy lifestyles. Our dream for this centre is that it would be a place where Jesus is made known, and the hope of the Gospel is shared.
    • For this dream to be a reality, we need funds to purchase land and build the physical vocational centre. Our estimated funds needed are approximately one million dollars. Our official fundraising campaign for this project has not yet been initiated, but we wanted to inform you of the project so that you can be aware of upcoming opportunities for involvement. 

      For more information on Woven International, please visit their:
      Website:  WovenInternational.com
      Facebook  |  Instagram   Shop Woven

      You can also support 
      Woven International by purchasing 139MADE's shirts and other products, while sharing about the wonderful work this organization is doing to fight human trafficking. 10% of all our sales until JUNE 29, 2021 will be donated to Woven International