Ex-students of Muscat start venture to help trafficking victims
December 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
‘Threads of Freedom’ initiative by the former students of Muscat . Photo-Times of Oman

Muscat: Two young men, who grew up and did their schooling in Muscat, have started Threads of Freedom (ToF) - an innovative social enterprise to reintegrate and empower victims of trafficking.

While studying for their master's in engineering in the United States, Pritham Raja, Adarsh Nungoor and Soumil Surana, were moved by the plight of trafficking victims and decided to start an enterprise to help them.

Trafficking victims are usually shunned by their families and refused jobs by employers.

ToF gives them a chance to learn new skills that guarantees them jobs and a chance to reintegrate with the society.

ToF is an all-encompassing programme, providing much-needed counselling and support to victims.

To fund their vision, they started a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $35,000 (OMR 13,470) to start the manufacturing of quality T-shirts.

The revenue generated from this campaign will fund jobs for ToF women at factories that produce the t-shirts.

Speaking to Times of Oman, Pritham Raja, said; "Both Adarsh and I were raised in Muscat until we went to college.

Adarsh finished his 12th standard from Indian School Muscat in 2006 and I finished mine from Indian School Al Ghubra the same year. Adarsh and I were classmates in seventh standard when I was in ISM.
Having spent the first 17 years of our lives here, Muscat is naturally home for both of us."

He also clarified that they are not looking to raise funds specifically from Oman, but have launched a crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the project. "We are looking to raise $35,000 and have so far raised $20,000 so far," he said.

Regarding the rehabilitation project, he said that so far 10 women have been absorbed into their pilot programme.

"But we plan to expand as soon as we receive funds and establish a market for our T-shirts. We plan to absorb 50-60 more victims of trafficking in the next six months and 90-100 by the end of 2015," he added.

Pritham, Adarsh and Soumil learnt that trafficking victims in India were being shunned by their families and communities.

While their classmates went on to join the ranks in Silicon Valley, Pritham, Adarsh and Soumil came upon a new business model that would rehabilitate trafficking victims.

"The issue is so grave that we couldn't just turn our backs to it," says Pritham.

 "As engineers,  trained to research and innovate, we believed that our skills were more critical in the social sector than at Google or Intel. We're determined to empower these women to rebuild their lives," he added. 

"When I first heard about ToF, I thought it was too good to be true," says Jyothi Nale, head of human trafficking department at Save the Children.

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