Before I met with JewelGirls program I had very small knowledge about the human trafficking in Russia. Project leaders (Elena and Veronica) informed me about the situation that now happening in this field. Most of the trafficked girls and boys are young people – orphanage leavers and street kids. Trafficked people are actually the big issue in Russia and very few nonprofits work with victims of sexual traffic, exploitation and abuse. One of them is JewelGirls Russia. JewelGirls Russia provides art-therapy classes for children and young people being trafficked and also for children in high risk group such as orphanage leavers, street and disadvantage children. Also the JewelGirls conduct seminars for experts in the field and awareness campaigns to attract public attention to the problem.
I visited project twice. The first one was during the fundraising event in Moscow. I finally saw how exactly the jewels look like and selling out. JewelGirls had very lovely pink-colored table with all the jewels.
During my second visit I joined the art-therapy class in the shelter for young mothers. The shelter appeared to be a very nice place to live. It has everything the young mother and a child need. All young mothers who now live in the shelter are orphans. Me, Veronica and Elena were waiting for. Girls already knew we are coming. There were only 3 girls, all aged under 17 with little babies. They started doing jewels together with Elena and Veronica. Project leaders started chatting with them, asking how things are going, what’s new, how do they feel etc. The girls responded well, they were relaxed and enjoyed the process.
I noticed that girls are very polite toward Elena and Veronica, they don’t say rude words or shout at them. They behave in a respectful way. And I like it. It’s just Veronica and Elena are not friends-like persons but those who provide job and pay money. It’s very important that girls perceive themselves as employees and Project leaders as their employers. Girls asked for help Elena and Veronica, for advice how to do jewel better, they listened to them and do what they say. All jewels made by girls are recorded in a journal with the name of the author and pictured. It’s essential to control the salary for the girls: as many you do as much you can get. Girls understand that.
During the class I tried to do jewel myself. Actually to make even a simple jewel is not so simple. And I couldn’t imagine, it will take me so long! Actually every girl has to invent her own design, think about colors and beads, the size of beads, the size of the bracelet or earrings and then start making it. And if you make a mistake you should release the whole thing and start again.
And observing the art-therapy class I noticed how this program can help young people with troubled past not only get new skills but while doing something beautiful they can open up and share their stories in comfort risk- free environment; here they are understood what they have been through and can get support. The process actually is very relaxing and encouraging; it can get back their self-believe and trust to other people.
You see, it's not just about jewels... it's much more!
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