This is the fourth in a series of articles as part of the WorldCraftssm Set1Free campaign. This campaign highlights WorldCrafts artisan groups working to end sexual exploitation and human trafficking among the world’s poor.

 In cities such as Kolkata (Calcutta), India, many young girls and women, like Puja, are forced into the slavery of the sex trade because of dire poverty. Puja was especially at risk because she had lost both parents by the time she was a young teen. But because ConneXions, a WorldCrafts artisan group, was working in Puja’s community, she was able to avoid even entertaining the idea of looking for any oppressive or shameful jobs.

            While Puja was only a small child, her father left her mother alone to care for three young children. He returned to his native village and has not been heard from since. Then in 2006 Puja’s mother passed away from cancer. Puja now lives with her two younger siblings, her grandparents, and her aunt and uncle in a small, one-room bastee (Indian slum home).

            When her mother passed away, Puja was concerned that she would not be able to continue her education. She feared instead she would have to start working full-time. But Puja has been able to continue her studies and also help provide for her family thanks to the income she earns from working in ConneXions’ paper production unit. ConneXions has provided her training, a fair wage, and the means to both work part-time in a friendly environment and continue her education.

            Puja, now 18 years old, has been a part of the ConneXions family, known to locals as CX, for 4 years. Her story is one of many struggles but also one of determination, love, and freedom. Puja believes that honest, decent work and a good education will continue to pave the way for her to provide for her siblings and give her the chance to stand on her own two feet.

            Through ConneXions and other local resource centers, Puja and women like her are able to gain practical training and earn a fair income. Through these opportunities the poor gain the freedom to direct their own futures and care for their families. As consumers around the world choose to purchase fairly traded products from importers like WorldCrafts, young women like Puja are empowered to provide for their families and set free to live a life of dignity.

 Your purchase of these handmade items from WorldCrafts allows ConneXions to expand its work among the poor of India, including those at risk of being swept into the sex industry. As WorldCrafts orders additional products from ConneXions, this artisan group can employ more people on the path to true freedom. WorldCrafts is part of the Fair Trade Federation. Please check our Web site for more products and stories! For a free catalog, call 1-800-968-7301. Join us on Facebook! WorldCrafts is a division of WMU®.

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