Dear Friends and Supporters:
This summer, Veronica, our Russian Program Coordinator, and I traveled from Moscow, where we already work with 17 children, to St. Petersburg to begin working with a new group living in a state shelter for trafficking victims. We provided training to the local shelter staff in St. Petersburg where they are now holding empowerment workshops, art therapy, and income generation sales parties to aid in the emotional and financial stability process that these vulnerable orphaned and trafficked youth face. The average age participant in our Russia program is 16 years old. However, we have participants who are as young as eight.
Many of the girls we serve are survivors of domestic servitude. We also started to allow a few boys to join to our JewelGirls program. I know that sounds a little funny, that boys are attending our jewelry making and art therapy classes, but these boys also suffered from labor trafficking situations, such as working in the fields. Just like the girls, we seek to empower, boys who experienced situations of sex trafficking and labor exploitation. After seeing all of the fun the girls have at FAIR Fund’s workshops, a few boys asked to join. The girls decided that they didn’t mind, so now we have "JewelBoys"! I think this is something that makes our programs in Moscow and St. Petersburg pretty unique.
In June, the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person's released their 2011 Trafficking in Person's Report where Russia was listed as a Tier 2 Watch List country. Thus, Russia continues faces serious challenges in identifying and assisting victims. There is no formal shelter for victims of trafficking, and so we utilize orphanages and groups like FAIR Fund often work with individual child and adult victims as best we can. In 2010, there was an increase in the number of overall reported victims of sex and forced labor trafficking.
Over the last couple months, the teen girls and boys in Moscow and St. Petersburg were busy creating more than 150 pieces of jewelry that was sold at sales parties and online. In just the first month of summer, the JewelGirls participants earned about 75 USD via online sales. This is a good start, but we are hoping to sell more in the upcoming months. Each of our teen girls and boys at FAIR Fund faces incredible challenges as they prepare to leave the orphanage or shelter where they live. Their past experiences and abuse leave long lasting emotional scars. And because they do not have family or friends who can help them find jobs or places to live when they leave, it’s really important that they start to learn how to earn money, find and keep jobs, and gain confidence in their community. This is what we bring them through our empowerment based programs at FAIR Fund.
Our two newest JewelGirls are Zoya and Veronica, 14 and 17 year old sisters who lived as domestic servants and victims of sex trafficking before being placed in a shelter. Their lives continue to be tough, but something rather amazing is happening and you can see the confidence in them grow by looking at the jewelry they create. In the beginning, when Zoya and Veronica first joined JewelGirls, they only made black jewelry. They were quiet, scared, and often seeming as if they were totally lost. After a few weeks, we noticed that Zoya started to pick out new colors – bright blues, pinks, and yellows. And Veronica started making amazing red jewelry. Everything she made was suddenly bright red! We asked them about their new colors, and they said that it reminded them of what life was like before…and we could see them beginning to “live again” and dream about a future.
Best wishes from Russia,
Elena Timofeeva, Russian Programs Manager, FAIR Fund
This July has been one of the hottest in a long time,” according to Elma, a 16 year old Roma girl and proud JewelGirls participant. We are all feeling the heat of summer, but it’s particularly warm for Elma and the teen girls who meet each Saturday at the Roma kindergarten where we hold our empowerment workshops. Our local Roma partner at the kindergarten ran out of funding, and resources are so limited in the Roma settlement that we have recently had to conduct some of our workshops without electricity.
Only, Elma considers herself one of the luckiest girls in her small Roma settlement camp outside Belgrade. She feels lucky to be allowed to come make jewelry and values each dollar she earns from sales to support herself and her family. Many Roma girls her age are forced to beg on the streets or are lured into sexual exploitation out of desperation resulting from extreme poverty and discrimination. Sadly, this has been the experience of many of the teen girls FAIR Fund serves.
I feel lucky myself to have spent part of July with Elma and the more than 30 teen girls in our JewelGirls art therapy and economic empowerment program in Belgrade. I have known some of the girls, like Elma, for years. I am meeting other girls for the very first time. This trip was filled with excitement because for the first time, we will be allowed to create JewelGirls sales events in Belgrade. Until recently, Serbian law did not allow for sales parties, meaning that the empowering experience of being a part of a sales event with customers and friends was just a dream for these teen girls who have seen photos other JewelGirls at sales events in D.C., Russia, and Uganda. So, despite the heat that makes the beads feel like they are melting in their hands, Elma and all of the teen girls in Serbia are eagerly attending each of the 40 workshops in July and August as they prepare to meet their customers and put their newly learned skills in communications and business to work.
The JewelGirls program has become so popular with the Roma girls in this refugee settlement that we have a list of teen girls waiting to join the program. They are waiting until we have enough staff capacity and resources to fully serve them. Yet, despite the heat and dim lights, the girls sing songs as they make jewelry and are passionately engaged in each workshop. They are excited for their first JewelGirls sales party, and so am I!
Enjoy the photos of the girls from my trip, and thank you so much for all of your support.
This Valentine's Day, FAIR Fund has created a special "Sweethearts for JewelGirls" campaign to honor the young women in our JewelGirls program. We would love for you to join us!
At FAIR Fund, we help empower high-risk and trafficked girls to regain love and trust in themselves and the world around them through art therapy and economic empowerment.
A trafficker pretends to be her sweetheart. He offers her a better life. He promises to love her. But, he is lying. He will sell her body. He will break her heart. Let’s mend her broken heart!
post a SweetHeart Valentine: FAIR Fund’s Twitter or Facebook
email a SweetHeartValentine: Amanda@fairfund.org
mail a SweetHeartValentine: FAIR Fund, PO Box 216565, WDC 20009
or, make a SweetHeartValentine: 2/10 sales party & campaign celebration!
Join us in D.C. this Thursday if you are in town for a free "LOVEraiser" event!
when: This Thursday, 2/10/2011 6:30 - 9:00pm where: One Lounge 1606 20th Street NW Come meet our celebrity SweetHeart for JewelGirls, Gabrielle Christian (House, South of Nowhere, CSI Miami) for SweetHearts for JewelGirls Jewelry Sales Party & Campaign celebration JewelGirls jewelry for sale make-your-own SweetHeart for JewelGirls craft table Hello Cupcakes complimentary cupcakes cocktail specials
We hope to see you there!
Dear Supporters and Friends
A lot has happened since FAIR Fund’s launch of our Safe Passage campaign on GlobalGiving. We could not have done it without the support of our friends who gave to us during the past year. We sincerely thank each of you for making our work to keep high-risk girls safe from all forms of human trafficking and to provide compassionate care to those who have already been exploited.
We have some exciting news!
On December 9th, the Senate passed a groundbreaking bill that, if also passed by the House before the end of 2010, will provide $15 million Federal dollars to support the recovery of American child victims of sex trafficking. I believe that the passage of H.R. 5575, the “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010”, marks a change in American attitudes toward child victims of sex trafficking.
On Christmas Eve 2008, I stood before D.C. Child Protective Services with a teen girl, “Mary”, who had just escaped her violent pimp. Instead of helping Mary find a place to stay, her social worker called her a “slut” and walked away. The one youth shelter in the area was full. For the next 24 hours, my staff and I searched for a safe place for Mary. Eventually, we found “Theresa”, a woman who had met Mary years before at her local church. Theresa took Mary into her home until we found more supportive housing. As we made call after call, Mary watched and worried, “where will I go tonight?”
Child sex trafficking is a serious human rights violation affecting thousands of children every year. The “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010” will be the first bill of its kind to provide COMPREHENSIVE care to the girls and boys our society has, until now, left out in the cold. So often, the conversation centers around: did she have a choice? To be honest, that question is irrelevant – no child can legally consent to be engaged in commercial sex. So, let us flip the question around and ask: “when we had a choice to help her, did we?”
In the past year, there have been times when a hotel was our only option for emergency overnight client housing. Given that the exploitation of child victims like Mary has occurred in hotels where their pimps held them, one can understand how difficult it is for them to stay in yet another hotel reminding them of their horrific past. The passage of this bill will enable service providers across the country to better offer emergency and long-term safe housing for girls like Mary. It just shouldn’t be this hard to help a sexually exploited trafficked girl. These young survivors should be at the top of our society’s priority list.
Because of your support this year, despite the recession and truly challenging economic times, FAIR Fund has continued to support the girls and boys who need us the most. As you are celebrating the coming New Year, I want you to feel good knowing that if someone asked you the question: “When you had the choice, did you help her?”, you can say, “Yes, I did.”
On behalf of the young women and girls we serve, thank you so much for your support.
Andrea and the FAIR Fund team
Dear Supporters and Friends:
On September 3rd, FAIR Fund and our partners successfully lead the charge to shut down Craigslist's adult services section. FAIR Fund organized local and national support around this effort and worked to educate and advocate publicly through appearances in national news networks CNN, the BBC, ABC and was quoted as an expert in the Wall Street Journal. Please visit our web site to see recent CNN video footage and a sample of all of the recent press.
Throughout our effort, we met with leaders in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking and with heroic young survivors, but it was the current victims who reminded us that while we are making progress, there is still so much more that needs to be done.
FAIR Fund needs approximately $3,000 to assist each of the teen girls we help and there are three specific teen girls who have come to us in the past month who need and deserve our support. While this is a modest goal, $9,000 will pay for a year of therapy and recovery programs for these three girls. Through a generous donation from one special donor, we have already received a pledge of $3,000! To make a donation visit www.fairfund.org today.
Children as young as 13 are being sold 10 to 15 times per night in the United States. Their traffickers prefer to use online avenues to avoid the police and to reach more people who want to exploit these girls and boys. Exploiters preferred Craigslist because it seemed somehow less exploitative to go to a site where apartments were being listed. Craigslist had consistently maintained that they screen every single ad posted on their adult services section of their web site to ensure that trafficking and exploitation, especially of minors, does not occur. Many of the young women FAIR Fund assists know that this simply cannot be true. They know this because they were being sold on Craigslist and other online search engines. Here is an example of the cold, harsh supply and demand reality of one girl's one-month experience being trafficked on Craigslist's adult services section prior to it being shutdown:
Trafficked Girl: $0
Your past support made it possible for FAIR Fund to help successfully advocate for Craigslist to shut down their adult services section. Your support helped remove one of the spaces where minors are easily, and without impunity, exploited and sold. There is much to be done to ensure that Craigslist and other web sites continue to help put an end to sex trafficking on their web sites. FAIR Fund will continue its work in the U.S. and around the world to support over 3,000 teens each year and we need your support.
Please help us continue to help even more young people in need right here in D.C. and around the world. Thank you for being a part of FAIR Fund's work. We need your support now more than ever. Every single person who we reach out to can help us make a difference to these three girls and the thousands more we assist in the nation's capital and around the world.
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