MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A local organization is giving survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution a new chance to thrive. Thistle & Bee Enterprises is giving a group of women an opportunity for therapy, community, and purpose through work.
It serves victims in Shelby County and beyond with a residential program along with work building and tending to beehives, and then marketing and selling the honey and herbs produced in the apiaries and gardens. All while the women work to rebuild their lives.
Eyleen Farmer, founder and board president of Thistle & Bee Enterprises, explains the two go hand-in-hand. “A bee is a community of women helping women. All the worker bees are female. They tend the hive, they guard the hive, they nurture the young, they take care of the queen.”
The women caring for the hives have continued to battle setbacks and strife in their lives. “Many of them come from histories of poverty and abuse,” says Farmer.
Some of the group’s apiaries now sit on the 75-acre campus of Baptist Memorial Hospital – Collierville. Visitors can see them driving up to the entering emergency room or walking around the campus.
“We just knew it would be a great partnership because of their holistic approach to helping the females,” explains Lindsay Stencel, chief administrative officer for Baptist Memorial Hospital – Collierville. She says Thistle & Bee as an organization is in line with the hospital’s goals. “It just matches up perfectly with our mission of preaching, teaching and healing.”
The group’s honey is sold in local shops and farmers markets, including the hospital gift shop. Farmer says the skills the women are learning, both caring for the bees and marketing the products, is giving them experience in the workforce and freedom going forward.
“A sense of, I am in charge of my own life and I can create the life that I want for myself and my family,” she says. Continuing, she explains, “most of the women have children, so they’re very motivated to heal themselves so they can take care of their kids.”