Girls who were denied their childhood need all the tools and enrichments we can offer them, in order to become strong, independent adults. This spring we launched a new program in partnership with Senhoa and Womens Interlink Foundation, offering jewelry training – for therapeutic purposes rather than employment – and an innovative life skills curriculum for school-going survivors, addressing such issues as relationships, hygiene, self-esteem, health and women’s rights . Because education is our number one priority for younger human trafficking survivors, this age group usually doesn’t get to participate in our jewelry employment programs, and they were very excited to have fun, learn new skills, gain valuable life skills, and express themselves creatively.
The 3-month program was offered to teen girls who are also attending school full time, at the Nijuloy shelter in Calcutta. Anh Hua, Director of Operations at Senhoa, lived and worked with the girls this spring and it was a fantastic success for the girls and for all three partner organizations as well. Sehnoa is a nonprofit which shares Made By Survivors’ vision of fighting trafficking with economic empowerment.
What is unique about Senhoa’s business model is that they train survivors to make high end, fashion-forward jewelry, using Swarovski crystals and exquisite designs. It is very far from most people’s image of fair trade jewelry.
In addition to teaching the girls how to make some beautiful jewelry pieces, Anh also led daily life skills classes, addressing such issues as relationships, hygiene, self-esteem, health and women’s rights, as well as bringing joy and team spirit into the program through games and team-building exercises.
Senhoa has worked for several years in Cambodia and among the Vietnamese population of Cambodia (a marginalized group which makes up a disproportionate number of human trafficking victims in Cambodia). This was their first program in India.
At the end of Anh’s time in Calcutta, she presented each girl with a graduation certificate and Aloka Mitra, Founder/Director of Womens Interlink Foundation and Nijuloy Shelter, organized a graduation ceremony and party which all 125 human trafficking survivors and staff of the shelter attended. The young survivors’ pride and joy in their success was glowing in their faces both during sessions, and at the graduation ceremony.
The girls were given surveys to evaluate the program and they were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the program, and especially for Anh, who is greatly missed. We hope she will be returning to India in the New Year for more quality programming. Sales of the Senhoa collection for Made By Survivors will help to fund the continuation of this program in 2012.