Honey, granola, and tea are sweetening the lives of Memphis sex trafficking survivors

"We have the capacity to bring pain into the world and we also have the capacity to bring beauty and healing."

Bees, honey and granola are sweetening the lives of women who faced the horrors of prostitution and addiction thanks to Thistle & Bee, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping eradicate trafficking in Memphis by offering survivors a way up and out.
Thistle & Bee believes that hidden within what looks to be sharp and ornery is something of incomparable beauty. But it takes compassion to see something valuable emerge from a prickly beginning.

“The beehive, the colony, the community of bees is a great method for the values that we uphold as a community — industry, cooperation, putting the good of the whole ahead of your own selfish needs, working together, healing together,” said Eyleen Farmer, president of Thistle & Bee Memphis.

The non-profit program works to restore dignity to woman trapped in the nightmare of sex trafficking by building a business that is owned and operated by survivors. By purchasing the products, handcrafted by survivors, you are participating in the mission to offer survivors more than a life raft.

(Source: Thistle & Bee website. Art work by Bill Branch)

“In addition to providing meaningful, dignified work, at a livable wage. Thistle & Bee also provides wraparound services to help them deal with all the stresses in their lives. We also provide a clinical component to our program from trauma counseling to twelve step recovery participation to various types of support —everything from helping them get new glasses or dental care to health care, financial support to legal support — all of those things that are required to thrive in a very complicated world. We try to address their barriers to success,” said Farmer.

Currently, there are five women in the program, but the goal is to increase it to 40. One survivor is learning a lesson in nature and life.

“You definitely have to be calm and willing. Open-minded, resourceful,” said the survivor.

The program knows that these women have had their lives controlled by everything from drugs to physical and emotional abuse and haven’t had time to dream — until now.

“Part of what we have to do is let them know that there are better things out there. Let them know what that looks like. Help them meet people who have been where they’ve been, who are survivors themselves. Let them know what it looks like on the other side of this dark place they are in right now,” said Madge Deacon, VP of Thistle & Bee Memphis.