Kristin Braddock never dreamed that she would run her own non-profit helping sex trafficking victims.
Before graduating from PBA in 2006, Braddock was a communication major heavily involved in the Justice Club, and felt passionate about helping people.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, I just knew I wanted to do something,” Braddock said. “But then I graduated, and there were these things called bills. So I got a job and worked for three years, and for awhile, I forgot about everything.”
That all changed when Braddock went on a 10 day mission trip to Mumbai, India with her church and partnered with the International Justice Mission (IJM). When she got home, she felt immediately drawn back to India.
“I did what any rational person would do: I quit my job, got rid of my apartment, and broke up with my boyfriend all within one week,” Braddock said.
Braddock soon took a position working for a large Indian sex trafficking organization in the capital city of New Delhi.
“Everyone was Indian, and nobody spoke English. But for some reason I felt like that’s exactly where I was supposed to be,” Braddock said.
While working for the organization, she was asked to attend a literacy event in an urban village two hours away. Up until this point, the staff had been unable to make any progress in this community.
This day was different. A woman from the village, unknown to Braddock, grabbed her arm and dragged her into her home, offering her chai tea.
“The staff were completely shocked. They asked me to come back to the village every day. Even though I couldn’t understand anything going on, I said okay,” Braddock said.
For the next year, Braddock traveled four hours every day to this village, where she sat down, drank chai, looked at wedding photos and nodded along in conversation with the women in the village, all while questioning in her mind what she was doing with her life.
Within that year, she learned a great deal about this community.
“These women at 11 or 12 years old would be married. The men, and their in-laws, would purchase them for thousands of dollars, and then they were expected to work off that bride price,” Braddock said, “I learned everything that happened: the domestic abuse, the cycle of being unable to finish an education and being forced into servitude by their families, and all of the rules around cultural prostitution.”
This time in the village relationships grew and Braddock learned that more than one type of sex trafficking exists. It is not only women in brothels, who may get rescued by investigators; it also includes women who get stuck in a complicated cycle of intergenerational prostitution within their own families.
“I saw that there wasn’t one type of victim, or one type of survivor. That was a lesson I needed to learn,” Braddock said.
In 2011, these women asked Braddock to sell things back in the U.S. they had sewn. She agreed, and a week later brought them their earnings. They were shocked by the outcome, and asked to continue. It was here that the idea for her non-profit, Sewing New Futures, began to grow.
With other staff members, she offered sewing trainings and continued to sell their products.
“By 2013, the other staff quit the organization and followed me. I couldn’t promise them a thing, and I made no promises to the women. I just said, ‘I’m gonna try my best,’” Braddock said. “Two months later I pitched my idea to a business competition, and three months later we opened our first center.”
In the first year of Sewing New Futures they struggled, and Braddock admits she made a lot of mistakes. But every month they got by, and gradually expanded.
In 2015 Braddock started Sewing New Futures as an official 501c-3 non-profit in the United States. Their profits increased, they bought sewing machines, started a daycare and expanded into health programs. Within the past year, they have also opened a dance studio, and are starting a nutritional program.
“The women get to work at the center and make money to provide for their family, instead of being forced into prostitution. It also brings a huge mindset change for them and their families,” Braddock said.
Braddock says so far they have helped over 40 women and are excited for future growth. Overall, she says a main theme for her work in India is to ensure marginalized women emerge empowered to sew their own future.