Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Planting the Seeds- Our Pilot Program

Earlier in the month of July, Senhoa ran a month-long pilot program as a test-run to gauge the response of our budding Lotus Blossoms. We also needed to familiarize ourselves with the program’s active content- after all, a lot can differ between theory and practice.

Four girls were nominated by our partner shelter and four girls were chosen from the ‘community’ to participate. One of the ideas behind the program is to integrate two target demographics:

  1. Victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  2. Girls vulnerable to entering or forced into the sex industry due to poverty, family pressures, or lack of employment opportunities.

The union of differing populations exposes each group of girls to another world; the shelter girls to realize a different way of life outside of their sanctuary; the community girls to become aware of the real dangers of the sex industry. But ultimately, the integration is to demonstrate that ‘help’ is available to anyone willing to accept it. You can only help those who are willing to help themselves.

The pilot, to our excitement (and tremendous relief), was a success! The girls would leave their Life-Skills class with pensive looks of possibilities and giggle with glee at the beauty of their creations in Jewelry.

In Life-Skills, the girls were introduced to the 5 Keys to success; Organisation, Getting Along, Persistence, Resilience, and Confidence. These keys are from the ‘You Can Do It’ program that is applied in schools in Australia to optimize the social, emotional and academic capacities of young people. The 5 Keys are a constructive and simple way to introduce the girls to structure, routine, discipline, and facilitated learning- the fundamentals building blocks to a successful lifestyle. The girls were always sitting up straighter by the end of class with their chests puffed out with new confidence and inspiration, ready to the face the world! (But of course, not quite yet. Rome wasn’t built in a day!) Their receptiveness to such unfamiliar concepts greatly motivated me, and filled me with magnificent hope for the program’s future success.

In the jewelry component, the girls were taught the basic techniques of jewelry making and within a fortnight they were able to produce high quality Swarovski pieces, ready to be exported and sold in the USA to a growing market of socially conscious consumers. One of the great advantages of this chosen vocational skill is its’ simplicity. With intensive training, jewelry production is a quickly learned skill, even for students with no previous handiwork experience. This provides the girls with confidence that they can generate income with newfound capabilities. But the true beauty behind Jewelry is the therapeutic and creative outlet for the girls; through their own persistence, their creation literally blossoms out of their hands. Imagine her euphoric glaze in her eyes as she holds up her own-made piece to the light…Sa-aht na…(‘So beautiful’ in Khmer)

In my shameless, biased opinion, Senhoa is on the right track in developing these girls’ potential for a better future. We’re going back to basics whilst meeting the needs and demands of the now.

Thank you for tuning in!

With love from The Field

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