Duo's Red Thread Movement spreads across U.S.
Samantha Sutherland ('12), international studies major from Brownwood, Texas
Brittany Partridge ('12), political science graduate from Annandale, Minnesota, and recipient of the prestigious Truman Scholarship for graduate school
College can be a stressful time for anyone. Worries about classes, friendships, relationships and the future are often cumbersome. But as freshmen, Brittany Partridge and Samantha Sutherland did not let the hustle and bustle of their busy class schedules distract them from a problem a world away - the thriving sex trafficking industry in the Asian nation of Nepal.
At ACU, we promise our students we’ll help them make a real difference in the world, and we try to do that at every opportunity. Instead of printing viewbooks this year, we are giving the printing cost to the Red Thread Movement and sending a Red Thread bracelet to each student who applies for admission. To be a part of this effort, apply online, or arrange to visit campus at acu.edu/visit to learn more about what it means to be a Wildcat.
Seeing a need in Nepal
In 2009, while volunteering at Eternal Threads, an Abilene-based non-profit, Samantha and Brittany developed a passion for helping the women and children in Nepal. They knew they had to find a way to help.
Eternal Threads creates jobs for women and children in developing nations by selling simple products like hats, totes and scarves made by women and children. They purchase the products at a fair trade price and sell them in the United States.
Spreading across the U.S.
Samantha and Brittany began brainstorming ways to generate funds and raise awareness for the dire situation in Nepal, where sex trafficking is a major industry. They founded the Red Thread Movement in 2009 with a simple idea - selling red bracelets to students on ACU's campus. Since then the movement has spread to 75 college campuses across the United States. The funds raised support a safe house for trafficking victims in Nepal.
"The interaction with participating members of Red Thread encourages me more than anything. While the girls in Nepal will always be the driving force behind what we do, I can't even express how inspired I have been by the people that I have seen take the movement and use it to do incredible things,” Samantha says. “Seeing the passion others have for justice and their desire to help has kept me going.”
The two women traveled to Nepal in January 2011 to see, firsthand, the effects of their work. Brittany returned in March to live with the girls at the safe house the movement supports. It was an eye-opening experience.
"What inspires me now are the relationships that have been built through Red Thread," she says. "Being able to meet the girls at the safe house in Nepal put a face to what we were doing and communicating with those involved in Red Thread on a daily basis is inspiring and motivating. It helps me know that what we are doing is making a difference."
The perfect place to launch a mission
ACU's Samantha Sutherland,
co-founder of Red Thread, talks about the making of a movement.
For Brittany and Samantha, who will both graduate in December, ACU was the perfect place to launch their mission. Both women believe the mission would not be what it is today without the support of the ACU student body and invaluable mentoring from professors.
"One of the reasons I chose ACU was because I loved how integrated missions were in many different aspects of the curriculum," Samantha says. "It's easy to find encouragement from faculty for some of the goals and dreams I've had. Many have had missions experience themselves, which enables them to give genuine advice and a good perspective when I come to them with questions."
They hope to see the movement continue to grow on ACU's campus and believe ACU is the perfect place for their mission to flourish.
"My hope is that Red Thread will continue to grow and become even more established as an advocate against human trafficking," Samantha says. "I've seen what it's capable of doing, and I'm excited to see where it goes as it reaches more and more people."
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