Behind this small shop lies a big backyard, a backyard filled with stories of hope and recovery.Thistle Farms is a nonprofit organization that helps survivors of human trafficking,drug and alcohol addiction, sexual violence and other traumatic experiences.
Its mission is simple to heal, empower and employment.The story of human trafficking, the story of sexual violence towards women, it’s a horrible story and it is global and it is huge.
The story of Thistle farms is a story of hope in recovery of women coming together and trying to make the world a more loving place.Jennifer Clinger became victim of physical and sexual abuse where she was only six years old.By 12 she was a drug addict, but Thistle Farms gave her a new lease on life.I ran away from home.I was trafficked introduced to child pornographers, more trauma on top of that another trauma.All my childhood training taught me that the only thing I had offered the world is my body.Doris Walker, Thistle farms director for local and national events says she was an addict for 26 years and lived on the streets for 20 years before coming here.
When I first got here they handed me a key and that was the first time in a couple of decades that anybody had trusted me enough to give me a key.And then they asked a very profound question.They didn’t say what have you been out there doing.They asked a question what happened to you.To soothe bodies scarred by physical abuse, Becca Stevens created a line of bath and body products.She hires program participants like Ty to make them.When the new women come, it’s like the best task for me.You know, so I get to pass on what I’ve learned, get to train them how to make products,get to train them how to run machines and I get to show them a whole lot of love.
Steven says everybody has a story and every woman’s story is different.She chose Thistle to be her organization’s name because the flower reminded her that every woman she meets can be both strong and fragile.I thought it would be a great idea to name the program after that flash flower that was left.And the women that I was serving were a lot like those thistles and like a lot like me.You know, prickly out, leaves that have a survival by poking people if they get too close.But they also have this beautiful deep purple center that reminds us how soft and beautiful people are, even with us hard outer edges.
For VOA news Saleh Damiger Tennessee