At 10 years old, Miljana and Tamara were your every day sweet natured twin sisters growing up in an ethnically Roma community in Serbia. The girl’s mother struggled to keep food on the plates of the young girls and their little brother and they often went to bed hungry. The girls, like thousands of Roma children, were born undocumented and thus unable to receive most governmental assistance. Despite living in what the United Nations would define as “extreme poverty,” the girls were joyful and trusting.
One day, while walking home from school, the girls were kidnapped by a man who preyed upon vulnerable Roma girls like Miljana and Tamara. After days of exploitation and abuse, he decided to sell the girls to a sex trafficker in Italy. Sadly, this is a common plight of kidnapped Roma girls. Only, their mother fought back. With the help of local police, the girls were found and rescued. They live daily with the nightmares and memories of sexual abuse endured as victims of trafficking and they narrowly escaped with their lives.
Shortly after their rescue, the girls were connected to FAIR Girls and our local partner, ATINA, who offers care and shelter to women and girl victims of trafficking. Now, four and a half years later, Miljana and Tamara joined FAIR Girls’ program JewelGirls as the youngest girls in a group of 12.
Miljana says that at first when she joined FAIR Girls’ JewelGirls program as one of our first members, she was so impressed with the pearls and shiny pretty materials. She says that she liked it all so much that she could not decide what colors to use and so each necklace was a rainbow of colors. Tamara agrees! And, guess who else agrees? Milan, their little brother who also asked to join JewelGirls! He said it wasn’t fair that his sisters got all the fun, so we decided to let him join, too!
Now, four years later, Miljana and Tamara tell us that they have crafted their own special style. They also demonstrate to use very day exceptional leadership as young survivors. Just like hundreds of FAIR Girls participants, Tamara and Miljana get to learn how to use their skills in marketing, math, customer service and leadership at our regular jewelry sales parties, too! They welcome and help teach new girls who join our program each month. They are also trained in survivor leadership and policy advocacy! Each girl hopes to enjoy a life filled with love, family, and self sufficiency. We believed in Miljana and Tamara four years ago, and we still do today!
Thank you for believing in FAIR Girls! We could not continue to empower girls like Miljana and Tamara without your amazing support!
Tanja Radovic, Serbian Programs Director, FAIR Girls
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