Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So Singapore, So Senhoa

On the 10th of March 2011 (what? already?!), the Senhoa team paid a visit to Singapore to spread the wonder of our work.

Senhoa was lucky enough to be selected to present at an International Woman’s Day event organized by Accenture, Singapore. We represented the ‘humanitarian’ sector for the one-day, sit-down event at the Marriot Hotel hosting up to 250 Executives from Accenture and BHP.

The objective of the event was to acknowledge the fast-rising empowerment of women around the world, including those in the developing world. We had 25 minutes to take the stage and make known the issue of human-trafficking and what Senhoa is doing about it to our well-to-do Singaporean Corporate counterparts.

Senhoa had a representative from the Field in Cambodia and one from Head-Office. It was a new experience for the Field. For one, being out of Siem Reap and back amongst skyscrapers, taxi ranks and well-dressed people. And secondly seeing the support side of Senhoa- the promotion and jewelry sales!

There was an emotional moment during the set up of the jewelry. Having seen the hands from which the collection has bloomed and then seeing it displayed in a show room in a 5-Star Business Hotel in Singapore… the pride that swelled manifested into tears!

Posing with our display set up with our information booth

Original designs by our girls

The Senhoa collection being displayed by the Accenture team

Fussing over the display. A proud moment.

The Field presented first, addressing the issue of human-trafficking, speaking from first-hand experience with the survivors and our implementation of the program to the most practical standard. The Field spoke about the girls regaining worth by being associated with beauty, provided with the foundations for learning, and being exposed them to a more meaningful world. The audience was completely engaged. There were lots of nods of acknowledgement, head shakes of disbelief, smiles of appreciation. And then HO brought it home with the ‘how you can help’ pitch- by purchasing Senhoa Jewelry! Being glamorous with a conscience. HO was the drive behind the sale of jewelry, eloquently reasoning the benefits of ‘giving back’ whilst still being fashionable.

A moment of pause for personal reflection

The response was positive. The Senhoa information stall was surrounded by women interested in the finer details about the program in Cambodia who wanted to know how else they could contribute to the cause. Every piece of jewelry was touched and tried on resulting in over $4000 of sales! However, the proudest moment was when nearly all of the original jewelry pieces, designed and made by the girls SOLD OUT.

Congratulations, Senhoa! For an immensely successful trip in Singapore. We created awareness to a new audience, we sold lots of jewelry, and The Field and HO were finally able to come together physically to work side-by-side!

Over and Out from,

The Field

Senhoa in India

What’s next for Senhoa?

As Head Office and Cambodia are engaging in the recent exciting events, a pilot program is unrolling to evaluate the prospects for Senhoa to extend its services to more young women in a different corner of the world. Welcome to India!

Today is the halfway mark of the pilot program here in Kolkta, India. Similar to the Senhoa program in Cambodia, Senhoa is bringing to India the income generating opportunities and life skills training to the victims of human trafficking and the young women who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. This pilot is conducted in cooperation with the Women’s Interlink Foundation (www.womensinterlinkfoundation.org) and Made by Survivors (www.madebysurvivors.com).

For four hours a day, ten girls are with Senhoa to learn life skills and the arts of jewelry making. Life skills classes are on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These life skills lessons are taught through engaging the girls in activities such as drawing, acting, writing, and playing various team building games. Thus far, we have discussed topics such as: concept of self, communication skills, friendship, teamwork, and relating to others. After each life skills activity, the girls convene as a group to reflect what they have learned from the activity. The group discussion serves as a great channel for the girls to not only share to their peers what they have learned, but it is also a place for them to slowly learn to open up and express their inner feelings—an essential step in overcoming the tragedy of their past.

Tuesday and Thursday are reserved for skill training in jewelry making. Some of the girls have a natural talent and already mastered the wire wrapping skill to create beautiful pairs of earrings. Yet, there are others who are still struggling to make a perfect loop. They are struggling, but they are still trying—determined to learn this new skill.

One particular memorable moment was when a sixteen years old girl said, “I want to be a tree to bear fruits for people to eat.” This was a respond to the question: if you can be anything in this world, what would you want to be and why? It is this kind of simple and innocent thinking that shows the resilience in these girls. They have lived through such traumatic past, yet they still face the world with a smile and are full of hopes and dreams. And it is precisely for this reason that Senhoa, Made by Survivors, and the Women’s Interlink Foundation hope to join hands to bring opportunities for these girls to realize their dreams.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jenny Van

As we are on the eve of launching Senhoa’s third collection entitled Pavo: Love, Patience & Strength, I want to dedicate this blog to the person who inspired the collection – our Creative Director, Jenny Van.

Jenny came on board to volunteer with Senhoa at the beginning of 2009. It was yet another serendipitous event (Senhoa is apparently very susceptible to these) where we happened upon each other and connected with a bond that quickly became the heart and soul of Senhoa.

Some women make a statement wherever they go. And a woman of conviction is hard to ignore. Jenny is one of those women. As a jewelry designer and anti-trafficking activist, she has created a number of striking jewelry collections for Senhoa, each one hand crafted by a survivor of human trafficking.

In addition to creative design, Jenny is also a jewelry trainer at Senhoa. Most recently, Jenny flew to Cambodia to teach 20 girls, many of whom were rescued from sex slavery, how to become beading artists. Using beads donated by Bead & Button Magazine, the girls practiced the art of wiring, wrapping, stringing, color scheming and much more! After her trip, Jenny shared: “I was so impressed with their fast learning! The girls were very persistent with every task given to them, and they mastered their skills so quickly!”

Based in Huntington Beach, California, Jenny is also the owner of JJ Bead. Jenny’s work has been featured in magazines such as Bead & Button and BeadStyle. Jenny’s designs have been worn by overseas Vietnamese celebrities and featured on Asia Entertainment, Inc. In 2009, Jenny was named finalist in the prestigious Bead Dreams competition, an international juried competition of exceptional bead artistry. Aside from her creative life as a jewelry designer, Jenny also holds a Bachelor of Science, double majoring in Medical Microbiology and Biochemistry from the California State University of Long Beach. Talk about versatility!

People often ask what the point-of-difference is for Senhoa Jewelry. And without a second’s hesitation we always say, “Jenny Van”.

Senhoa’s third collection, Pavo: Love, Patience & Strength, will be launched on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2011.