August 23rd, 2010
10:45 AM ET

Faith-based fashion company helps women rescued from human trafficking

Editor's Note: CNN's Nicole Cukingnan files this report from Washington, DC about a religiously minded fashion company.

Former model Giselle Meza’s career allowed her to visit exotic locations and world-renowned sights, but it was witnessing the worst violations of human rights that stuck with her throughout the years.

“The more I would go on great assignments around the world and if we’re in Africa for a shoot…we were using that beautiful backdrop for pictures and for making so much money,” she said. “But behind me were these beautiful little children and women that were really just experiencing a lot of need and injustice.”

Out of her desire to help victims of human trafficking, Meza created Puresa Organics, a faith-based company whose goal is to empower women through spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional rehabilitation. The company then gives rescued women new skills and provides employment so that they are able to sustain themselves and start a new life.

Partnering with Project Rescue Nepal, the company started in 2007 with twelve rescued women and has grown to 265 in three years.

Project Rescue is another faith-based organization that aims to provide a safe haven for victims of sex trafficking.

The women are brought to the Puresa Organics center in Katmandu, Nepal where they are given medical attention, food, shelter, counseling, and eventually job training. They are taught how to sow and become part of the creative process in the design and production of the eco-friendly organic bags that the company sells to fund their mission.

Meza stresses the importance of spiritual counseling in the rehabilitation process.

“Most of the women in other programs commit suicide because there comes a point where there’s nothing above and beyond you that can continue to give hope. We try to holistically give them a complete restoration program and as well as employment,” she said.

The ministry aspect of Puresa Organics is evident through daily prayers, devotion time, bible studies, and regular church attendance.

“If you can imagine the tremendous healing that has to happen to each individual, that those memories may never go away,” she said. “Providing the spiritual aspect of it to us is so important because those girls and those women will always flashback to that but in providing the hope in God, they know that they have something else to grab onto.”

Most rescue victims are either Hindu or Buddhist in their faith, since the company’s efforts have focused on India and Nepal. Meza states that while their ministry is Christian, the women are never forced into adopting those beliefs. She claims that ninety-five percent of the women seek to learn more about Christianity on their own.

The former model believes that because Puresa Organics and the missionaries show care for the women in a godly way that it makes them curious to understand the reason behind the desire to help.

Being an entrepreneur and humanitarian has been personally fulfilling for Meza. She says her own faith is constantly renewed when she sees the sisterhood formed between the women the organization has rescued as well as the smiles and laughter they exude despite going through years of abuse.

“On the one hand it’s incredible to see how we’ve grown, twelve women to 265 now, but on the other hand it’s also very sad that there are that many women that need to be rescued and so many more. There will never be a stop to this,” she said.

The U.S. State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report states that there are 12.3 million adults and children forced into human trafficking and that fifty-six percent of these victims are women and young girls.

With human trafficking as a significant issue the world continues to deal with, Meza hopes that Puresa Organics continues to grow.

“We know that there are ten thousand women in Calcutta that need jobs so that they can be rescued and moved out of the situations that they are in. We are currently speaking with missionaries, but you know it’s not something you can do overnight,” she said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • United States

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soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Andrew Spink

    Reblogged this on Thirsting for God and commented:
    Praising God for his work through organizations like these...

    July 10, 2013 at 1:18 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.