Empowering Women to Design Their Own Bright Futures.

Bird in Flight

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NEW design from Paromita at our Calcutta studio, features a bird cut out on sterling silver, hanging freely on top of solid silver backplate, 1" tall on 18" silver snake chain. Paromita says she loves bird because they are represent freedom for her. Made in India at our Artisan Jewelry Centers in Calcutta, Mumbai and Darjeeling.


Bird in Flight

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The most common animal seen at shelter homes is the bird. Despite the tall walls and security to protect the girls from traffickers, coming and going all day are the birds. The meaning of "bird in flight" really encompasses so much more than the way the average person thinks of the liberation of flight. To the Survivor-Artisans, it is even more meaningful when empowerment is thought about at a more basic level, freedom to be safe and secure throughout the day and to do even the mundane (running errands for instance). The "bird in flight" is directly tied to the hopes and dreams of the Survivors at the most primal level and encompasses so much. In one way it is grandiose: the idea of soaring over all obstacles. In another, it represents the desire for freedom in such a more basic way; freedom to make all the small choices in life, and, for it to be reasonable to feel safe without the need for the walls.

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Calcutta Jewelry TeamThe MBS Jewelry Centers – including the pilot program in Calcutta, the Mumbai Center, and the Jalpaiguri/Darjeeling Center  are some of our most exciting new initiatives. These centers are training some of India’s first women goldsmiths, offering intensive (paid) high level skills training, followed by long-term, fairly paid employment.

Survivors at the centers are designing and manufacturing jewelry in precious and semi-precious metals. They also serve as peer trainers for new trainees. Jewelry making in India has traditionally only been done by men, and by members of specific castes. It is a highly respected and prestigious skill which enables survivors to overcome the stigma of trafficking and forced prostitution.  

Many of our artisans are survivors of human trafficking and brothel slavery who have been rescued in raids and have spent several years in local aftercare shelters are also in need of help and opportunities if they are to leave the shelters, live independently, and support themselves.  Others are at high risk because they were born into brothel communities or in rural villages with a high incidence of trafficking.  Some are survivors or child marriage, severe domestic violence or other human rights violations.

Typically, girls are trafficked between the ages of 11 and 14 from impoverished rural areas in India, Bangladesh or Nepal. They are sold as slaves in brothels, where they endure severe physical, sexual and emotional abuse and torture. Those fortunate enough to be rescued from slavery face continuing extreme challenges in rejoining mainstream society. It is a struggle to rejoin society because of social stigma and a lack of job options, education or skills.

Survivor Jeweler in Made By Survivors Mumbai Program

We see a dramatic change in the behavior and confidence of our survivors through this program. At first they are timid and unwillingly to look you in the eye. After six months they are laughing, speaking out, and maintaining eye contact. After a year, they are solving production problems, and challenging us to match their determination and energy. We see survivors progress from shelter-dependence to total independence. Many of our survivors are remarkable for their courage in recuing others, spreading awareness of trafficking and slavery, and advocating for the rights of women and girls.