Former Muscat residents start enterprise for victims of sex trafficking

Muscat - 

Two expatriates who grew up and were schooled in Muscat, have launched an innovative social enterprise that helps victims of sex trafficking start life afresh by providing them jobs.

The pilot programme of their initiative, Threads of Freedom or ToF, in Bengaluru, India, has received great response.

Pritham Raja and Adarsh Nungoor, alumni of Indian School Muscat and Indian School Ghubra respectively aim to reintegrate and empower victims of sex trafficking, by providing them with healthcare, counselling and most importantly, jobs.

Both completed their schooling in Muscat in 2006. It was while they were pursuing higher studies abroad that they came upon the idea. “While in the US, Adarsh, I and our third partner, Soumil Surana were moved by the plight of sex trafficking victims,” Raja told Muscat Daily. 

“These victims are usually shunned by their families and refused jobs by employers. ToF gives them a chance to learn new career skills, guarantees them employment and the chance to reintegrate into society. ToF also provides mental health counselling and support,” Raja added.

To fund their vision, they launched a kick-starter campaign on November 5 this year, with a goal of raising US$35,000 (RO13,470). Till now, US$20,000 has been raised.

“ToF works with large clothing manufacturers to employ our candidates in exchange of clothing orders. We then sell these clothes to consumers and fashion brands and this revenue drives our entire programme.”

Raja said that when a candidate enters ToF's programme, she is provided training, regular counselling, medical care, accommodation and food. “Accommodation and food is free until they get their first pay cheque; after that it is provided at a subsidised rate.

“Our candidates also have access to independent counsellors on the factory floor in case they face any issue. Furthermore, their confidentiality is paramount to us, so except for the owner of the firm and a senior executive, no one else at the factory knows about their background.”

Raja added, “We've set up our pilot programme in Bengaluru and it has worked beautifully. The women in our programme absolutely love what we do for them and so do organisations which rescue them. It has taken a lot of effort to set this up and we have brought a garment manufacturer, multiple non-profits and government agencies on the same playing field to make this entire programme work and successfully reintegrate the victims of trafficking.”

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