The following content was written by a dear friend and newly engaged bride, Antoinette, I had the pleasure of meeting while photographing a missions trip in the Dominican Republic back in January of 2015.
*The faces are blurred out to keep everyone’s identities safe.
“I believe I found my passion in 2009 when I learned of the harsh realities of sex trafficking in the United States. I feel everyone has that one thing that just “gets them”, that one thing, whether it be hunger, disease, or orphans that they can’t turn their head from. Mine is human trafficking. I began searching for ways to make a difference in the lives of those affected by this horrific crime. In my search I found many organizations that I was able to work with throughout the next few years. The first one being Wellspring Living and then others, such as, the Not for Sale Academy in San Francisco, Traffic Free, and We Are Cherished-Ohio. I had a passion to bring light to this issue and was able to pioneer and lead a few social awareness campaigns.
On a short term mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2014 I learned of an incredible organization called Lily House through SCORE International. Lily House not only houses, but employs survivors of human trafficking. I majored in Business Management so their employment piece thrilled me! The ladies at Lily House learn to sew, make jewelry, and bake. To expand on their business efforts they also have a salon, bakery and gift shop! Through much prayers, deliberation and even some hesitation (this wasn’t in “my” plan)… I was SO blessed to return to the Dominican Republic for 6 months in 2015! Throughout my time there I was given the opportunity to work on the business side of Lily House, as well as stay in the home with the girls. Honestly, there are not enough words to describe the changes that took place in me while I was there.
What a blessing it was to be a small part of their journeys! I got to stand beside them as they chose beads and tools to create their very own unique pieces. I was honored to watch their smiles as customers came through and purchased their very first creation! This is just one small piece of the transformation that takes place at Lily House.
My fiancé and I have decided to use our wedding as a platform to positively impact more than just ourselves and our wedding guests. We created a wedding registry through myregisty.com. This gave us the chance to add items from any website. We were able to register from organizations such as Servv, The Little Market, Equal Exchange and more! We are also purchasing gifts for our wedding party from organizations that give back such as Fancy Freedom Designs. Our invitations are printed on eco-friendly and recycled paper, handmade and cut to order! Another organization we’re using is Dot Products for our wedding guests!
I learned first-hand why buying products from organizations that sell ethically sourced, fair trade, and hand made products is so important! It is far too easy to allow ourselves to shop without thought. But there is this incredible feeling you get when you hold, in your hand, a product that is uniquely created by a human being. Usually, that feeling is even more exciting than the product itself.”