Bound 4 Freedom fighting oppression of women worldwide

Mon, 2007-05-21 10:07 -- univcomm
May 21, 2007

It’s women, working with women for women. And they are bound to make a difference. By making and selling hand-crafted journals, six young ladies, all former or current students at Anderson University, have come together to help fight women’s oppression all over the world. Megan Barnett, Audrey Mattingly, Jaime Nigh, Melissa Oesch, Melissa Ann Taylor and Rachel “Ray” White have all taken part in beginning Bound 4 Freedom, a non-profit organization, right here in Anderson.

The whole thing began when Barnett, 22, was making journals and giving them away.

“Our pastor said she should start making more journals and sell them because they were so unique,” said Oesch, 24. “We began talking and we were both concerned with women in oppressed situations and so we came up with the idea and started gathering other women interested. Now it’s the six of us and we have lots of volunteers.”

Even though the organization is still in its beginning stages, it has come a long way since its August 2005 inception.

“We started with 20 bucks,” said White, 23. “We made a journal and sold it and used that money to make a few more and so on. We’re up to 700 plus journals sold.”

Now, Bound 4 Freedom has two part-time employees, regular studio hours at The Mercy House, a local church located on 14th Street in Anderson, approximately 30 regular volunteers and an online store.

“Our goal is to go international with this,” said Mattingly, 23. “We want to start up branches all over and employ women who are struggling to give them a sustainable income. Right now, we’re just in the U.S., but we’re just starting.”

Each journal is hand-crafted and very unique.

“We have a lot of people involved and each person has their own aesthetic, so each journal comes out different,” said Mattingly.

As for materials, the women said they use everything from old wallpaper, material found at garage sales and “just whatever,” said Mattingly. “The paper inside, we buy at Hobby Lobby.”

Each journal is hand-sewn, has 100 unlined pages and range in cost from $15 to $40 depending on the size and materials involved [Photo: Mandy Coplin and Joshua Cook work on decorating the covers of hand made journals along with other volunteers for Bound 4 Freedom].

Currently, the organization is working to officially receive their non-profit status and hope to have that done by July.

“It’s a long process,” said Taylor, 22. “We’ll be happy to receive this.”

Bound 4 Freedom is already working with international organizations donating journals for volunteers who work with HIV/AIDS patients to help women record their life stories to pass onto their children. They also donate journals to volunteers working in countries with extreme poverty to keep track of their journeys.

These young women have many more plans for Bound 4 Freedom. “We would like to connect to Dove Harbor, Alternatives and the Mustin Shelter to help local women who are struggling,” said Mattingly. “We want to give these women a chance to build work references and learn a skill. We also want to give back to our community as well.”

Ultimately, Bound 4 Freedom would like to become an umbrella organization and give people across the globe a venue in which to sell their hand-crafted items. “We would love to also be a connection for non-profit organizations,” said Mattingly.

These women are well on their way and business is picking up.

“We’ve made more than 847 journals so far,” said White.

Bound 4 Freedom journals are available locally in the Anderson University Bookstore and at The Mercy House during volunteer hours which run from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers,” said White. “Anyone is welcome to just show up. We will teach them everything they need to know.”

--Lynelle Miller is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson. Story and photos republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.