Senhoa Foundation

Supporting vulnerable persons and survivors of human trafficking by providing income-generating opportunities, social reintegration, and programs for self-empowerment. We believe in: - Income generation so that vulnerable women can gain economic independence. - Educational and social programs for intellectual empowerment. - Using business sensibilities to achieve humanitarian goals.
Dec 23, 2014

Lucky Us

Photo by Sylvia Tran, Volunteer Extraordinaire
Photo by Sylvia Tran, Volunteer Extraordinaire

Lotus Kids’ Club has had some volunteers over the few years we have been in operation. We appreciate all of those volunteers who have graciously given their time and efforts towards helping LKC grow and improve. And we are incredibly lucky now to have a volunteer who has thrown herself completely into LKC mind, body and soul—Sylvia T.

My first contact with Sylvia was through email with her expressing interest in volunteering for us to complete her graduate studies for a Masters in Public Service. Sometimes I am reluctant to take on volunteers as it could be more work than it is worth. Especially if it is for a short time and initially she was scheduled to be with us for 3 months or so. It has taken some volunteers a month to adjust to the time, weather and cultural changes, and some never do. So we arranged a Skype call to sort out details and see if it was a good fit for the both of us.

My first impression was ‘Hmmm this is one bubbly, excited young woman on this video Skype call.’ I don’t usually do so well with bubbly. But she asked questions that showed she was bright, organized and motivated. We really needed someone to help us better organize our Afternoon Program, which is a drop-in program for kids 3 years and older. With that age range it has always been a challenge. Her task would be to help us in this area. We both decided it could work, and her excitement about her coming was contagious.

Sylvia came, she saw, she conquered the Lotus Kids Club. She was indeed a bit bubbly in person but not at all the annoying bubbly type. Maybe it’s better to describe Sylvia as upbeat with great energy, enthusiasm, a great sense of humor and a quick learner. She made sure she understood our needs, took her time in formulating a plan of action, communicated that clearly and jumped feet-first into the work. She quickly won over the entire LKC staff and readily embraced the language and culture of Cambodia, embarrassing me as she picked up the language at a much faster rate than I did after my 4+ years here. Not sure I’ve forgiven her for that yet.

She did indeed help us improve the delivery of our Afternoon Program services. But Sylvia came to love LKC and Siem Reap and was not finished with us yet. She signed up for another 4 months and then decided she wasn’t returning to the US till nearly her graduation, an additional 4 months away. She’ll be with us for close to a year. So for the almost seven months now that she has been with us she has taken on a wider workload, completing several tasks and working on others.

She has helped with staff professional development, streamlined and made efficient our micro-loan efforts, helped with the implementation of English and computer learning. Been influential in helping our families access vocational training and with job placements. She has helped our Social Workers better define their roles and been instrumental in teaching all staff about data collection.   She has built partnerships with other local NGOs and helped with fundraising. Sylvia has also contributed her own money to expanding our physical space which includes a new library space.

She has done more than what I’ve stated, and there are the intangibles that are difficult to articulate. I know she has freed me up to focus better on many of my tasks. On top of all that she takes great photos including the one for our Global Giving page of the child reading a book and one that was a finalist in the Global Giving Photo Contest of one of our kids brushing his teeth. Yes, we are very lucky this bubbly young woman called us to volunteer. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing the last of her when she returns to her home in the States. We’ll be even luckier if I’m right.

Nov 6, 2014

Changes and Blossoming

A few months ago, I would not have believed that I was going to spend my day-to-day with a group of young girls who are real examples of success, the real lotus flowers. Four months ago, I landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia, without knowing what to expect: in my head, the words “management,” “evaluation,” “finance,” “artisans” and “monitoring” were circling around and around, always thinking in terms of numbers, challenges, aims, results, results, results… then, 12 young girls - the amazingly talented jewelry artisans – turned my thoughts into “hope,” “dreams,” “team,” “thrive,” “future” and “yes, we can!” I am Allin Delgado, Country Director of Senhoa in Cambodia, a Mexican learning every day from 12 beautiful lotus flowers and the most passionate and committed staff ever!

I started working with Senhoa in July 2014 and was lucky to be witness to one of the Jewelry Program’s biggest milestones yet in Cambodia: our launching event of the Senhoa Jewelry Brand in Siem Reap. Since 2010, and through many challenges, we have transitioned from being an NGO with a Vocational Training Program for at-risk Cambodian and Vietnamese women, into a social enterprise. The main goal for many non-profits, we have achieved it.

Throughout the past 4 years we have provided our artisans guidance for personal and professional development, opportunities and tools to reconstruct their self-confidence. Senhoa has been working hand-in-hand with each one of the girls not just teaching the most advanced skills in jewelry making, but seeking to revive “that” spark in their eyes when they dream about the future and they express “It is possible.”

Senhoa, as a whole organization, has been a role model for the girls as well: changes are always for the better, changes lead us on our way, changes represent development and a clear path to walk on. Thanks to an amazing team in California, our partners and supporters - like Global Giving - that have been working very hard to fundraise for the Jewelry Program, Senhoa in Cambodia has a new office with a spectacular showroom displaying every piece of our collections and the artisans’ original jewelry line called “OOH - Our Own Hands.”

Also, the artisans are working in their new design studio since August – upstairs from Senhoa’s office – with a beautiful view to the Siem Reap River, a workshop that is a safe haven where they can share their dreams, where they can break the barriers of dreaming higher, where they can trust that Senhoa is not “just an employer” but an organization that will push its own limits to give them the quality of life, support and life and professional skills that they need to become empowered women and, why not, young entrepreneurs, jewelry or fashion designers, their own brand.

Khmer society, as I perceive, is a little bit reluctant to changes, maybe due to the heartbreaking history. During this moving process, plus a new Country Director, production on our new EM Collection, the day-to-day challenges of any start-up, and a new Production Coordinator - who, by the way, was one of the artisans! -, the girls and the staff were confused of what was happening. It has been a constant learning process for all of us to cope with the changes and understanding that those changes symbolize Senhoa’s development. But like the lotus flowers they are, they emerged successfully from changes and realized that all this means: “maybe I can learn sales and improve my creativity for new designs…” or “look! That is my piece that is being sold!”

Now the artisans have a small Sales Team composed of artisans who are interested in learning sales skills, customer service and practicing English with visitors and clients. The Designers Team is encouraged every day to draw, imagine, research on internet and create their own designs and teach the rest of the girls. With the help of Dara, our Social Worker, the girls have daily counseling. Senhoa wants the best of the best for the artisans, and we are on our way.

The girls achieve small goals every day without them even noticing; just 2 days ago, the quietest girls, always afraid to speak, introduced themselves to a visitor – in English! –laughing and without hesitation. These small achievements are the whole reason why Senhoa keeps growing, including them in Senhoa’s self-development: they haven’t pictured that, what comes from their own hands, is an astounding and glamorous product in which - we believe - belongs to the high fashion industry and runways around the world.

Now, they are in the process of believing it: they are skilled, they are capable, they are dreaming, and Senhoa trusts in their capacity. Small steps are leading them to learn more new skills, like *Sara*, who has become a Production Coordinator since September; She is now creating reports, Excel spreadsheets, emails in English, etc. all that combined with studies preparing for University next year!; or like *Tanya* who was a very bright but rebellious girl, recently became a Supervisor. She checks quality control and teaches the girls the more intricate techniques. Her compassionate manner and her leadership skills are blooming. She is becoming a wonderful team leader and extremely responsible!

We are committed to improving these wonderful 12 lotus flowers’ lives and, hopefully, more in the following years. What I have found during these past 4 months is that Senhoa’s Jewelry Program is not just a Vocational Training Program, but a whole package of resources, tools and support guiding these young ladies to believe in their capacities, to believe that they are beautiful inside and outside, to believe that they are already on the way to empowerment, and to believe that all Senhoa’s team believe in them.

*Names were changed.

Sep 29, 2014

Wow-Moments of Discovery at LKC

I have mostly spoken about the Pre-school Program at Lotus Kids Club. Our Afternoon Community Program is thriving also. It is a very challenging program as it is a drop-in program for children of all ages. So you can imagine the struggles we have had in providing activities of interest for the varied ages. And to be truthful my expertise lies with pre-school age kids. Over the years I have fortunately done some work with older children. I have learned a lot at LKC. And it can be, surprisingly to me, quite satisfying and fun.

The youth that attend LKC are enthusiastic and hungry for knowledge and new experiences. We want to make the program interesting and create an environment for them that will encourage discovery and learning. We want to expose them to a world they have yet to have discovered. How cool it is to hear exclamations as a youngster looks through a microscope for the first time and see the intricacies of a butterfly’s wing and exclaims “Wow”! Most of our teachers in fact have never looked through a microscope to see the amazing wonders of nature. It’s a wow moment when a child balances a gyroscope on a pencil tip and then learns it can be done on a tight string also.

We were donated these books with stunning photos of nature and animals. Many wows are exclaimed as the youth pour over the photos. I believe new worlds open up for them when they see the most amazing photos of the frozen northern and southern tips of the world, especially having never seen actual snow. Seeing animals and plants they could never have imagined is thrilling. We want to introduce them to games and activities that will stretch their imaginations, inspire creativity and encourage critical thinking. We want them to realize that there are opportunities in many fields of study in the world for them. We hope they see that it is possible to follow their interests and that they have choices. Once they understand this they will have dreams and goals that will more likely lead them to a fulfilling life. They will see and experience more ‘wow moments’ throughout their lives.

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