I have been with Senhoa’s Lotus Kids’ Club for just over a year and have been in Siem Reap for almost 2 years. It has been wonderful working with the dedicated folks of Senhoa, both Westerners and Khmers. Watching the children grow and learn, and seeing the joy on their faces as they gain knowledge is almost indescribable.
In coming to Cambodia, my simple goal was to help the people in any way that was most useful. My initial role was to help set up the preschool space, add to the learning materials and educate the teachers about early childhood development/education in the pre-school program. I have also become a part of the development of the Community Afternoon Program, which serves children 3-18 year olds. I assist the director, Sophy, in decision making and general direction of LKC. The teachers are amazingly fast learners and they have quickly come to accept and embrace these new teaching methods after seeing positive changes in the children.
I’ve watched so many of the children grow and learn. One little girl, on her first day, just stood by the door and sobbed. Within a couple of days she gradually moved closer, observing the action, and by the week’s end she was cautiously participating. Over the next several weeks she would mostly play alone and didn’t seem to talk or smile. This gradually changed after a few months and now she has made friends, she sings songs, and she often flashes gigantic smiles. She has blossomed in confidence, thanks to the patience and support of the teachers. She’s a bright, organized girl who will attend the best primary school in the Fall. My guess is she’ll excel.
There is another little guy who constantly resisted participation in activities, and was often starting conflicts with other kids, choosing negative behavior as his ploy for attention. He seemed to have a insistent face of anger and sadness. Though it took time, intentionality, and structure, he is now the first to help clean up at program’s end and lightens each day with his boisterous laugh. I genuinely believe that young children will gain confidence and learn to make appropriate choices if they are in the right environment with caring and supportive teachers. He too will attend school in the Fall and I have no doubt he will be a willing learner.
These are just a few examples of the wonderful work the teachers are doing. In the pre-school program our goals are to get the children ready to learn, ready for school. We want them to have a thirst for knowledge, the confidence and persistence to succeed and a belief that they are competent, valued individuals. We want them to believe confidently that they can make a difference in their own lives and in the world.
After a year in Siem Reap, my role with LKC is changing. The teachers are now well equipped to run the programs without my direct support. I will continue to teach about childhood development/education introducing more in depth concepts. I will continue to be involved in the planning and decision making. And I will continue to teach Ratha, the Social Worker, the principles and challenges of Social Work. I will spend more time enriching the programs, including the professional and educational development of the staff. Perhaps I will eventually work myself out of my job. Sustainability is the mantra here and it will be a good thing.
As we reflect on the last several months, it seems that our dear friend Change has taken up permanent residence within Senhoa. With her, she has brought a slew of surprises, new opportunities, and an abundance of delight!
Our team in Cambodia continues to strengthen our network with Japanese NGO Kamonohashi! The Kamonohashi Project based in Siem Reap is an initiative aimed at preventing human-trafficking by providing income-generating opportunities for women and children through the manufacturing of handi-crafts. In this effort, our friends have found difficulty in engaging the women in work due to their lack of education and understanding of work ethic. Thus, our duo began with Senhoa’s utilization of the Life Skills program to equip the women for success in their new jobs. As Kamonoshi identifies these vulnerable women, Senhoa is able to invite them to become part of our Lotus House - a safe community to cultivate growth during their time in the program. Our hope is that the young women of Kamonohashi will learn the value of work ethic, responsibility and critical thinking. In this, they may return to their villages better equipped to thrive in their jobs at the weaving factory and avoid the trap of human trafficking and the dangerous lure of the commercial sex industry.
In March, our team held an exciting week of Summer Camp for the new students in the Life Skills Prgram. Our Volunteer Summer Camp Coordinator, Luckyna Chea, worked closely with Country Director, Deb Ly, to design an experience that integrated education, mindful play, team-building activities and life skills. Everyone here in the field helped in all aspects - from coordinating with our partner shelters to brainstorming effective games and activities to running around Siem Reap looking for random ingredients to make Play-Doh and Chia Pets. We also sought out the most beautiful hair and clothing accessories for an end-of-camp fashion show while also creating a video to recap the entire week for the girls on their final day. An experience to be long-remembered was certainly had by all!
In April and May, our team worked hard at completely remodeling the classroom spaces with new lockers and a break area. We recognize that its important to work in an aesthetically beautiful and organized space, so we made an area for the girls to feel comfortable, creative and inspired.
Join our Senhoa Cambodia family. We are currently looking for artistic volunteers to join our team to work with the girls in designing murals for the walls as well as constructing an outdoor yoga studio on the roof of our new building. If you or anyone you know has an eye for design or an imagination that runs wild and would be interested in spending some time in Cambodia, please contact Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senhoa Head Office
Senhoa is delighted to find our products featured throughout the media limelight! The June issue of People StyleWatch featured Sovanna (from the Coco Rocha for Senhoa Collection) in the Charity Finds section!
At the 2012 Grand Chefs Dinner at Gotham Hall in New York, Coco Rocha put an edgy twist on her ruffled vintage 1960s dress by adding pieces from the Coco Rocha for Senhoa Collection. And actress Jenn Gotzon graced the red carpet in Senhoa Jewelry at the 20th Annual Movie Guide Awards. Also, Senhoa’s work and collaboration with Coca Rocha was featured in the May 2012 issue of Vogue Australia!
Most recently, Senhoa’s Head Office partnered with the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) for the Saigon Electric official DVD release as well as Giana Nguyen’s Twister music video world premiere. VAALA seeks to connect and enrich communities through Vietnamese art and culture. This was an exciting event for Senhoa as it allowed us to connect with various industries in the Vietnamese arts community.
Please continue to follow our blog at http://blog.senhoa.org/. We are ever grateful for your support and partnership in eradicating fear, creating safety, and empowering young women!
Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Cambodia:
On the morning of March 23, I was able to spend the day with Senhoa visiting projects and learning about the achievements, challenges, and staff.
After filling out numerous security and background check documentation months in advance, the day of the site visit finally arrived. Bright and early Debra, Senhoa's Country Director, and I met to visit the Lotus Kids Club first. The Kids Club focuses on education, prevention and community-building and is located in an impoverished Khmer and Vietnamese village where the residents mainly work as rubbish and recycle collectors making an average of $1.25 per day. When we arrived I could hear the laughter of the children. Walking through the gate I was welcomed by one of the staff, and kids were happily playing, reading, and creating everything from sand mounds to drawings. The club served as a sort of preschool to not only give the kids an opportunity to be.... well... kids, but also to prepare them for public school. There the children receive snacks to address malnutrition issues and quarterly medical examinations. Families are incentivized to send their kids to this during the day (instead of sending the young children to earn income for the family) through a food program.
After speaking with the staff and observing the program, Debra and I were off to the Jewelry Program. The jewelry program is utilizing a taught skillset to instill confidence. Supplemented with a life skills class, this program takes confidence from jewelry making and applies them to the rest of life, as well as rebuilding the ability of learning and solution finding. I arrived and was able to observe a class on goal setting, meet staff, and then observe some of the students practicing making loops with the jewelry program. They come after or before work and school and earn a stipend creating beautiful pieces (some made with Swarovski Crystal). I definitely fell in love with a few of the gorgeous designs. The girls were not only practicing, learning, and laughing... I saw them help and teach each other when one or the other was struggling.
Finally, Debra and I visited the Lotus House - a transitional house for the girls to stay in during reintegration. During the girls' time here they can come and go as they please but it allows them to focus on a priority of learning and life training. Residents receive incentives for keeping themselves and space clean as well as using good language. The space was clean, safe, and comfy.
Senhoa works collaboratively with other NGO's and not only interacts with the community but receives feedback to move forward and adjust current projects. Senhoa is promoting awareness for human trafficking issues with celebrity networks via their Coco Rocha co-designed jewelry featured in fashion shows and events. I was very impressed with the requirements for safety of the girls, confidentiality like photo restrictions, and background check before my visit. I enjoyed my day meeting the staff and Debra from Sehoa, learning more about their programs, and experiencing the impact first hand.
At the beginning of November, Senhoa released the new collaborative Coco Rocha for Senhoa line and we have not stopped running since!
Stateside, our team has been tirelessly fundraising through benefits, promotion, and partnerships with other organizations in our field.
Senhoa has also had the pleasure of being featured in several magazines and other publications since the collection’s release, including Vogue UK, NBC New York, CBS Los Angeles, and Elle. Also - perhaps the most exciting event thus far - on February 10th Senhoa was featured exclusively at the Greenshows as part of the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week 2012. Three of Senhoa’s pieces were highlighted along with designs from other contemporary ethical designers. Team Senhoa included Lisa and Rhodo from the Board, and supermodel Coco Rocha and her husband, James Conran. The event was attended by over 500 people at Lincoln Center in NYC and was featured on CBS News.
On the Field, we have been equally dexterous and busy at work with the Lotus Kids Club, the Lotus House, and the Senhoa Jewelry Program. January marked the commencement of our second jewelry program with 18 new girls eager and excited to learn. We have also brought on a Jewelry Manager to expand the girls’ original designs in Cambodia. This is important because it will provide the girls with intensified jewelry education and more freedom to create from their own inner beauty.
We have also received many generous donations in Siem Reap in honor of the Christmas season. For the Lotus Kids Club we received several donations of children’s clothing. And for the Lotus House and Jewelry Program we received beautiful new pillows and blankets, an array of beautiful beads for jewelry making, and four new bikes to allow our staff and students to more efficiently travel between classes and job placements. Another large blessing that cannot go unmentioned is Mr. John Kimmel, CEO of Normerica Inc., as well as the dedicated staff of Normerica who cover all of Senhoa’s overhead costs which has freed Senhoa to use 100% of public donations for the field to fund our projects and serve those in need. Our supporters are ever generous and overwhelming from every direction, we can never offer adequate thanks for their blessings.
As always, we invite YOU to be a part of the journey! Check out or blog http://www.senhoa.org for more information on how you can partner with Senhoa in saving and changing the lives of these precious lotus buds.
As the warm summer breeze has given way to the vibrant colors of autumn, after months of tireless planning and eager anticipation, Senhoa is proud to present our newest jewelry collection!
On November 1st, we released the Coco Rocha for Senhoa Collection! This collection is made up of seven unique jewelry pieces designed by Coco and handcrafted by the hands of the very women Senhoa is helping to liberate and empower through our programs. The campaign was shot by Nigel Barker, the infamous judge and photographer on America's Next Top Model, and Jamie Beck and stars supermodels Coco Rocha, Iman, Caroline Treniti, and Behati Prinsloo.
In early September, Senhoa’s stateside volunteer Creative Director, Jenny Van, traveled over to Cambodia with the exclusive Coco Rocha designs to train up our jewelry artisans for the collection. The girls fell in love with the designs and immediately jumped to action with their expert dexterity. They approached the intricate designs with such confidence that Jenny was pleasantly caught by surprise!
Already the collection has been featured in Elle, style.com, and The Telegraph UK, Check out the exquisite limited-edition collection, exercise that credit card and Accessorize Your Conscience at www.senhoa.org/cocorocha
You can also keep up with other press releases here: http://cocorochaforsenhoa.tumblr.com/
“Accessorizing can do more than just compliment a woman’s wardrobe and beauty – it can make a statement about what she believes in.” –Coco Rocha
Though much of our outward attention has been focused on the Coco Rocha for Senhoa Collection these days, there are several other exciting bits to be shared!
From February to May of this year, Senhoa spearheaded a pilot Life Skills and Jewelry Training Program for the survivors of human trafficking in Kolkata, India. The pilot was in partnership with the Women’s Interlink Foundation and Made By Survivors. It was amazing to see the girls bloomed during the three-month program. One girl shared during the graduation ceremony, “Thank you for helping us to come out of the shell. We are confident now and we know that we should always stay in unity. With love and affection we can bring change in the society.” Check out the collection at http://store.madebysurvivors.com/Catalog/Senhoa-Collection!
Also, in September, the field team in Cambodia strengthened the Lotus Kid’s Club Human-Trafficking Prevention Program – essentially a Preschool engaging darling little blossoms through PLAY to open up their worlds for exploration, confidence, and solid learning. Ms Robyn, the LKC Program Facilitator says, “It is in play that children develop the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. This is vital for success at public school. I am amazed at the progress of all the students…” Check out the Senhoa blog for more updates on the progress and unfolding of the LKC Program!
As we continue to move forward, spending our days in organized chaos producing what we hope to be success and a positive change, we invite you to JOIN US! Check out our blog http://www.senhoa.org, make the Holidays special for your family with one of the pieces from our collection, and partner with us financially to make a difference today!
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