Restore NYC and Hello Rewind: Eco-friendly Products Made by Formerly Trafficked Women


The main statistic that greets you on the homepage of Hello Rewind, a social enterprise partnering with an organization in New York City called Restore NYC, is sobering – over 100,000 women are sex trafficked each day. The second statistic is slightly less sobering, the impact is no less real – over 16,000 tons of clothing and textiles are thrown away each day. Those textiles and garments are likely headed for a landfill somewhere, while the women face a much worse fate.

What is Restore NYC?

Hello Rewind SleeveRestore NYC is a nonprofit founded in 2006 in New York City by three friends who wanted to do more to help victims of sex trafficking currently living in New York City. Restore works with Korean and Chinese immigrants who have escaped trafficking abroad and provides them with a wide range of services to help them recover from trauma and build a new life.

Each woman Restore works with is assigned a case worker who helps assess their individual needs. Those women then have access to Restore’s menu of direct services, which includes individual counseling sessions, advocacy services to navigate the medical and legal systems and healing movement therapy, to name a few. Restore also has a residential program where women receive basic services such as food, clothing and medical care. They also receive education and vocational skills training in subjects such as English, computer skills and helps them prepare for the GED.

Women can also participate in a new sewing project, which Restore does by partnering with Hello Rewind, a New York-based social enterprise. This project gives women the opportunity to learn tangible business skills, providing them with employment, language skills and vocational training.

How Does Hello Rewind Work

Hello Rewind logoNot sure what to do with your favorite t-shirt? Why not give it new life as a sleeve for your laptop and help a formerly trafficked woman get on her feet. You pick the shirt you want immortalized. Then visit Hello Rewind and purchase a laptop sleeve. They offer four different sizes, one of which is likely to fit most laptops or netbooks. You mail the shirt to them in the envelope they provide. In less than a month, you’ll have a new sleeve for your laptop. And you’ll have helped two great organizations and a number of formerly trafficked women in the process.

Who Does Restore NYC and Hello Rewind Help

You don’t think sex trafficking can happen here, in the United States, but it does.

Yumi Li thought she was being recruited for a $5,000 a month accounting job when her family put up their homes as collateral for the $50,000 fee to be smuggled into New York City. Instead of ending up in a high-powered Wall Street office, Yumi Li ended up in a brothel on 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan with 20 other women. Yumi Li was beaten, gang-raped, videotaped and threatened. If she escaped or went to the police, her captors would send the video to her family and take their homes. Eventually, Yumi Li and a friend were able to escape. They found help with Restore NYC and are currently working on getting healthy and getting their lives back together.

Hello Rewind sleeve

Another woman (most of the Restore’s clients remain anonymous pending any potential legal cases) came to New York City in her late 30s on the offer of a job in a restaurant. She also faced a $50,000 smuggling fee, with her families home also being offered as collateral. She worked as a prostitute for three years before getting help. She was referred to Restore by a judge after being arrested a second time for prostitution. Restore helped her learn English and is currently helping her obtain a visa.

How Can You Help?

Restore NYC is a young organization, but with the help of Hello Rewind, they’re growing fast. They’re currently helped over 100 women in New York City and have plans to open the city’s first safe house. With your help, they can do even more.

If you’d like to resurrect your favorite old t-shirt by purchasing a custom designed laptop sleeve from Hello Rewind, or just want more information, visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about Restore NYC, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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