2 Minute Tuesday – Be Free Revolution / The Rev

This week, Austin sits down with Lacey Stluka of Be Free Revolution and The Rev to discuss her work in Kenya and at home, here in Collierville.

Lacey Stluka of Be Free Revolution / The Rev Interview Transcript

Austin: “Hey, Austin here with Tour Collierville’s Two Minute Tuesday, and this Tuesday, I’m here with Lacey Stluka of Be Free Revolution and The Rev. Lacey, thanks for being here.”

Lacey: “Yeah! Thanks for having me.”

Austin: “So, tell us a little bit about Be Free Revolution, you’re a nonprofit, and how that kind of came to be and what y’all are doing.”

Lacey: “Yeah, so me and Britney Christie, we started Be Free Revolution in 2011. Brittany was leading a mission trip at the local church and I happened to be on the team, and the devastation we saw in slums in Kenya was very overwhelming. We’re dealing with a lot of cases of abuse of kids as young as first grade, and they’re just in situations that are hard to wrap your head around.

So, after that experience, we call it our Kenya Coma, we were just depressed. I couldn’t re-adjust back in my life. I leaned on Brittany, and we literally started Be Free on her dining room table, and just trying to figure out ways to help the slums that we had visited on that trip, and how we can aid the cycle of poverty from the core, and not just put a band-aid on it. So, how can we help them full circle? So, we fundraised, sold a bunch of paper necklaces we got from our first trip, and then we went back and partnered with a school called Wings of Life in a slum called Kibera.”

Austin: “Kibera?”

Lacey: “Kibera, it’s one of the largest slums in Africa. To give you an idea, it’s about a half a mile square radius, and over millions of people live inside of it.”

Austin: “Wow.”

Lacey: “Yeah, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger, and so that statistic may have changed by now, but they’re just stacked on top of each other, no sanitation systems, barely any electricity. It’s just overwhelming to look at.”

Austin: “Yeah, lots of needs there.”

Lacey: “Right, right. So, the first need we addressed in a school called Wings was feeding, because the kids were starving and couldn’t learn, and so, we partnered with the paper necklaces that they were already doing. So, we pay the ladies outright for their jewelry, matched it, and put into feeding, and now the kids eat twice a day in the school now since 2011. So, they’re able to learn.

From there, we realized that they’re learning and they’re excelling, but, after eighth grade, they were just funneling back into the slum and they were resorting to ways of prostitution, and stealing, and just adding to the cycle of poverty. We weren’t breaking it, and so we started our sponsorship program.”

Austin: “Okay. Yeah, so tell me a little bit about the sponsorship program and how that works, and how you can get involved in that area.”

Lacey: “Sure. So BFR Kids is a sponsorship we call full circle. So, a hundred percent of that donation goes directly to that kid, and it involves, they get counseling weekly because a lot of our kids have struggled with abuse or neglect or they’re orphaned or have some of extreme abuse that’s happened, and then, it also covers their school needs, school fees, everything. So, our kids are able to graduate eighth grade and go on, out of the slum to boarding schools where they sleep on beds for the first time. They get hot meals every day, they’re learning, they’re excelling. And our goal is, if we can educate the youth there, then we change the cycle of poverty because they then go on to be contributing members of their society. So, that’s really where our focus is, mentoring these kids, discipling these kids, pouring into them, which is why we take trips four to five times a year to kind of invest in them and raise up leaders.”

Austin: “Wow. That’s amazing. That’s a lot of trips.”

Lacey: “Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s a lot more crazy.”

Austin: “Well, that’s really cool. So, tell me a little bit, you’ve opened a shop called The Rev. You were in Memphis, now you’re out here in Collierville. What is the shop? What do y’all do and how does that help your mission?”

Lacey: “Yeah, so The Rev, we opened in 2014, originally in East Memphis as an extension of Be Free Revolution, just a way to allow people to shop thoughtfully, and when they shop, they know that it made an impact and a difference. Whether you’re buying a cup of coffee, at that time we did coffee, or you’re buying a necklace, you know that that is giving back, and you can come in for a piece of jewelry and you leave on a mission trip, because we’re sharing the mission of what’s going on. So, lots of people have gone on mission trips because of The Rev, and then, last year, we popped up in the Collierville square for the holiday, and love the Collierville community, because Brittany and I both live here. So, then we just decided we didn’t want to leave. So, now we’re only in Collierville and we love it here.”

Austin: “And you’re here at the square, as well, right?”

Lacey: “We’re here at the square. Now, we don’t do coffee because you have Square Beans and they’re awesome. So, we just have gifts and things from all around the world that you can shop, some from our travels, and others that have different causes or missions that they’re supporting.”

Austin: “Okay. Gotcha, and y’all use the Bible Museum’s space on the square, right?”

Lacey: “Yeah. We love them. So, we love the director there and everything about his museum that he’s doing. So, we’re kinda tucked in their space, so it’s really great.”

Austin: “So, the jewelry, that’s actually being made in Africa? Is that right?”

Lacey: “Yeah. So, there’s different products that are made in Africa. They’re made just everywhere that have different causes. We also work with women locally that are refugees from Nepal. They live in Binghamton and, this is a whole other saga, but refugees have such a difficult time here because they’re as old as, they’re in their fiftees and sixtees, and can’t speak in english, so it’s difficult for them to get jobs. They can’t drive. So, they make this jewelry, lots of handmade metals and different jewelry that helps them sustain their families. So, we also do that in Binghamton, as well, and you can find that at The Rev.”

Austin: “Gotcha. Okay. So yeah, lots of good information. So, Christmas is coming up. Do y’all have anything going on, mission trips coming up, and different ways that people can get plugged in during this time of year during the giving back season?”

Lacey: “Yeah, you can shop online at BeFreeRevolution.com or TheRevMemphis.com. You can visit the rev here on the square. We’re going to have lots of jewelry, lots of cool creative gifts you can get for the holiday, and our mission trips will be posted at the end of the year for 2019, so, if at any point you want to hop over to Kenya, I’m your gal.”

Austin: “Awesome. Well, very cool. Thank you so much for coming and all the great information.”

Lacey: “Yeah!”