3strands metal bangle. (Submitted photo)

Imagine 12-and 13-year-old girls living their lives in human sex trafficking. Unfortunately this is happening in many parts of the world and right here in North Dakota. The good news is that people do care and want to make a difference for these girls. 3Strands jewelry is a fashion brand aimed at fighting sex trafficking around the world and a local boutique, Apricot Lane, is participating in this project.

The first Bismarck retailer to carry and support 3Strands, Apricot Lane returns 100 percent of the profits from each piece of handmade jewelry to the organization, Agape International Mission. Agape International Mission works to empower, teach and employ young women who have been rescued from this life style. Another line of bracelets, Nepal Mission Bracelets, are also created by women artisans and the profits are also dedicated to the empowerment of women and children.

Loni Bienek, owner of Apricot Lane located in Pinehurst, says she wants to "give something back" and offering this line of jewelry is a way to do it. 3Strands products are wax-cotton woven bracelets made to purposefully remind the wearer of the trafficking survivor who created it. Each bracelet displays one fragile red seed from the pods of Sandalwood trees, native to Cambodia, and each piece of jewelry is signed by the maker.

Ken Petersen, owner of the Apricot Lane Boutique franchise and founder of 3Strands, found a way to help these unfortunate girls. Working with Agape International Missions (AIM), he created 3Strands to fund the Agape Training Center in Svay Pak, Cambodia.

The rescued women learn skills for the workplace and ultimately use these skills to produce the jewelry. They also receive counseling, educational services and medical benefits.

Their salaries are three to four times higher than typical garment factories pay in Cambodia and will lead to their empowerment in the workplace and, ultimately, financial stability.

For more information on sex trafficking and AIM go to www.3Strandsglobal.com.

The North Dakota Safety Council is a private, non-profit organization supported through grants, donations and memberships. Their mission is to save lives and prevent injuries at work, at home, on our roads and in our communities through education, training, leadership and advocacy.