Starfish Project helps women from exploitation
The Starfish Project is a business in Michiana that is committed to helping women who have been victims of human trafficking and exploitation.
The name itself is unique. Starfish are able to regenerate limbs that have been broken off, likewise the Starfish Project gives aid to women who have been broken.
The Starfish Project's founder Jenny McGee was born and raised in Elkhart but moved to Asia about 12 years ago for work and to study Chinese.
After living there for a while she realized the harsh reality of what many women were going through and wanted to help.
“I had a friend who was working with people who had been trafficked so I kind of just went along with her as a translator. As I got to know women on the street and women who were working in brothels, I just heard their stories and it really broke my heart. Many of them had no education; a lot of them had only been to second grade,” said McGee.
She started the project in 2006, and has helped hundreds of women as well as employed 80 women to work for the company.
“I started Starfish Project really out of a place to try to find a place to provide economic help to them. So we started a jewelry business and also they needed a place to live so we started several women's shelters,” said McGee.
The women start out by making jewelry, then as they grow they can move up and get other jobs in the company like photography, accounting, or graphic design.
Computer and vocational classes are offered everyday to give the women educational opportunities.
All of the jewelry is handmade by the women in Asia, then they are shipped in bulk to Goshen.
Within the past month, the Starfish Project has gone international. They recently helped 10 different woman return to their villages in Cambodia.
McGee says a big part of their sales come from their online store and through their Advocates of Hope program, where about 100 different women advocate and promote the project from their home. To learn more about the Starfish Project, click here.