Article by Kelly Sargent
“What is going to happen to the girl on the next table after this meal? What is going to be done to her at night? And the night after and the night after until someone steps in and offers her an alternative life?”
Social worker and business owner Christine Teo is on a mission to end modern day slavery with her initiative Generation414.
Generation414 is a 100% organic, ethical, fair-trade online store and human rights initiative that sells handmade products by survivors of sex trafficking. The aim: to provide dignified employment and personal development opportunities to women who seek an alternative to the sex industry.
Founded in 2015, Generation414 was born from Christine’s experiences during a three week holiday around Asia in 2012. While she acknowledges that there were good moments throughout the trip, essentially; “it was one of the worst holidays I had.”
“Every day when I walked the streets, all I saw was old fat ugly Caucasian men holding hands with ladies that barely looked 16 years old!” says Christine.
Being of Chinese-Singaporean descent, and travelling with a friend of Caucasian appearance, Christine was often mistaken as a local prostitute and the incidents filled her with anguish. While her travel buddy laughed off the advances of; “How much for this one for one day?”
Christine was appalled and disturbed by the occurrence, which happened almost daily, and set about helping those in the situation on her return to Australia.
“I felt very overwhelmed by all I saw and started to question, that when God made the world he made it beautiful, and what have we done to it over time that we have covered it with such filth and evil?” says Christine.
Currently Generation414 sells clothing, bags and jewellery items, all of which are handmade by the survivors. Items can be purchased online; however, it’s more than an online shop; Generation 414 also supports local charities by assisting with funds to build a ‘transition’ house in Myanmar, and supporting mental health awareness campaigns in Australia and New York.
The name Generation414 resonates with the idea of inspiring a generation to make a stand against the exploitation of children and women, by purchasing ethically proven goods that will help others.
According to Slaveryfootprint.org, there are 27 million people in the world today who are victims of modern slavery; they are trapped in brothels, in factories, in mines, on street corners, in homes, hidden in the shadows with no voice, no future, and no hope.
Knowing this fact; Christine doesn’t play to the notion ignorance is bliss, and asserts; “We may choose to look the other way but we can never say again that we did not know about it, to not do anything about it.”
Christine urgers everyone to be the change they wish to see in the world, and supports Mother Teresa’s attitude; “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Christine has grand plans to grow Generation414, to sell to many markets, and help many trafficked women and children.
Check out the Generation414 online shop to purchase products from the site; or become a generation Game Changer and help Christine spread her message through hosting a party or becoming a representative.