Fashion for a Cause: Made By Survivors


Today, we bring you something more than fashion and jewelry. While this post does include some amazing artistry, what we were left with after reading about this organization is a responsibility to do something. To be honest, we have been given a lot. The importance of our “I have nothing to wear” days or Starbucks runs seem to fade when we hear real stories like these. So today, join us as we dream of ways to change the world, because daunting as it may appear, something can be done.

Meet Made by Survivors.

Made by Survivors is a nonprofit organization that employs and educates survivors of slavery and other human rights abuses. They empower women to not only rise above their current situations, but to make a better life for themselves and their children. We are taken aback by the heart of this organization, and the lives they are changing forever.

John and Sarah Symons, founded the organization in 2005.

“Made By Survivors changed my life,” says Sonia. “I used to be afraid to dream, because I had so many losses and disappointments in my life. Now I am beginning to dream again. I want to become a master jeweler and beyond that, I want to train other poor women so they can have the same opportunities as me”

Most of the survivors in Made by Survivor’s programs are young women or older teens who were trafficked and rescued early in life. Older women who have been exploited for many years also yearn for a different way of life, and sometimes find it through our economic empowerment programs such as Rehab, a partner program of Made by Survivors.

Below is the story of Fon, a woman who was captured into this lifestyle at age 14. Her story pulls on our heartstrings, but also inspires us that something can be done.

I came to the bars of Patpong when I was 14 years old. My parents separated and me and my 4 siblings were split between my parents. When I was 14, I came to Bangkok looking for my mother. My mother was not interested in caring for me or looking after me so I got a job in a massage parlor in Patpong on the advice of a friend. When I was young and beautiful, I had a number of foreign “boyfriends” who cared for me and sent me money when they left Thailand. As I got older, and was not seen as beautiful any longer, the only place I could work was in the sex shows. I was about 50 when I went there. I then married a Thai man who did not like my working in the bars so arranged for me to be a tout on the street where I would entice men into the bars. I had known about Rahab for many years, but never visited. Many of them at Rahab made friends with me. Koi and Maniwan would talk to me on the street and were able to pray with me for my ill health. After a frightening experience where I was almost hit by a bullet, I came by myself to Rahab the next day. At that time I was living with family, who were not interested in me apart from the money I put towards my rent, so when Prai told me about living at Rahab House for free and rice being provided for me, I chose to do so. I am now 58 and have been in Patpong for 44 years. I love making jewelry and have helped several other women get out of the red light area”.

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While there is still so much to be done, we are beyond thrilled that Made by Survivors exists and is helping women in Africa and Asia have a better life.

Made by Survivor’s handmade jewelry is not only stunning, it includes the message of freedom and hope. Below are just a few of the pieces that we would like to add to our wardrobe!

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 5.45.01 PMThese boho beauties were made by the MBS artisans in India.

Screen Shot 2013-02-09 at 5.46.29 PMIn Nepal the elephant symbolizes overcoming obstacles, which is the reason why this animal appears in a few of the designs by the MBS team. They feel that these animals represent their own courage to overcome their situation.

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Made of three chrysocholla stones, it is believed to bring harmony to the wearer. This necklace helps support a new and empowered life for the artisans in Thailand who make it.

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This beautiful bracelet includes colorful glass and handmade clay beads dug from the Fijian earth and hand-fired by survivors at Homes of Hope Shelter in Fiji.

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This charming jewelry travel roll is made by survivors in India.

See more jewelry in their store here.


Ah, what to say?
We would be lying if we said we did not have tears in our eyes as we read the stories about the women this organization continues to empower. It just goes to show that we are here to help each other, and Made by Survivors has challenged us to reach outside of ourselves to create change.

Happy Sunday!



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  1. [...] of favorite fashion blogs, Coast to Coast Challenge, featured Made by Survivors in the Fashion for a Cause section! We think they wrote a beautiful [...]

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