We have some awesome news! Our Lotus Kids’ Club got a brand new playground–the first the kids have ever seen! Steve, our project consultant, talks about the amazing gift below:
LKC Wins the Lottery: Ok, the Lotus Kids Club has not actually won a lottery, but that’s what it felt like after Lisa and I met with Solera. Solera is a company based in Dallas, Texas who has taken an interest in Senhoa’s community program the Lotus Kids Club and wants to help in a big way. They have already provided the funding for a playground that we desperately needed for the children we serve. And the playground is built! It has truly enriched our program and provided hours of fun for all ages of the community of kids we serve. I should mention the proposal was submitted by Daniel, owner of Tangram Garden restaurant in Siem Reap, through Trails of Indochina, a unique tour company.
The playground came out of a proposal written explaining our need for a space so our young children could develop their gross motor skills and the older children could participate in active play promoting cooperation. Without seeing the LKC program Solera decided to fund the playground construction. We were thrilled because it was a dream come true for us. We had to start the ball rolling quickly because we were told they wanted to come and help with the construction, @ 20 folks. Of course I thought “sure they’re going to help in 99F/37C heat”?! No way. How wrong I was because when they arrived it was indeed HOT and HUMID but they got to work digging, hauling bricks, and doing whatever was needed. I was duly impressed.
And Tony the founder/CEO was right in the thick of it, though I think he enjoyed more his time playing with some of the kids. His assistant Katie was clearly having fun with the kids. After a few hours we met with Tony and Katie before they left and they expressed interest in continuing to help LKC. The meeting was short but it seemed a strong connection was made. They are very honest and down to earth folks. They said they would return in a couple of months and I put them in contact with Lisa.
The playground (sorry the picture is from a bad angle)
Fortunately they were returning when Lisa was planning a site visit to Senhoa in Siem Reap. I was thrilled that would be the case as I thought they really needed to meet Lisa. So in April we all got together and when Tony and Katie began talking about what they hoped to accomplish for LKC I felt like they were reading our minds. Much of their vision of how to best help us was in line with what we have always hoped to accomplish if we had the resources to do so. They want to provide us with those resources.
So now the work has begun. We are drafting and submitting plans for professional staff development, a focus on the children’s health and continuing education, a family development approach, vocational training, micro loans and finding ways to involve the community as a whole in helping themselves escape the cycle of poverty. We are realistic and realize the challenges we face yet optimistic because we have seen change and know it can happen. It will be a group effort from Senhoa HQ, the LKC staff, the youth, the families and the community we serve. I believe we are on a path to bring significant change that will continue to grow through generations. Wish us luck.
'O.O.H Program' is our revamped name for the Jewelry & Life Skills Program. We got a little tired of saying (and typing) such a long and literal name for a life-changing program. Where's the creativity? Where's the pizazz? Finally, after much brainstorming, we came up with a name that everyone concurred to: 'Our Own Hands'. Not only do the girls produce beautiful jewelry, literally, with their own hands, but they are also taking their life and future into their own hands. So supporters and donors, if you've seen 'O.O.H' splashed around, you now know what we're referring to!
The O.O.H Program saw its 2nd graduation last year in December with 11 graduating students. 4 of whom were offered full-time positions from their working internships during the program. The girls were also offered the chance to apply for a position in the 'Artisans Program' (a graduate program for girls who'd successfully undergone the life-skills component) to work as part-time jewellers, focusing on design and production, as well as continued training in structured, fair employment.
It hasn't just been accreditation gain for our girls. They have been gaining lots more energy and healthy weight from our newly initiated Nutritious Snack scheme. We were receiving a lot of complaints from the girls who were always tired, weak and quite thin. They thought they were sick, but we were quick to see that they were actually underfed. We wanted to demonstrate through the scheme what kinds of healthy choices the girls can make with their food purchases as well as feel the benefits of proper nourishment.
It's also taking the girls less effort climbing stairs and riding bicycles, for their fitness has improved immensely! Under the instruction of Natalie Deuschle, the girls have been practicing yoga an hour a week, getting familiar with their bodies, developing their coordination and learning the healing power of silence and reflection.
Thank you for your contineous support and for leaving heartprints of kindness and compassion
With Deep Gratitude,
We have officially launched our newest collections!Julie Ragolia for Senhoa& Charmed by Senhoa
Each Senhoa jewelry piece is individually handcrafted with care, pride, and love by a young woman who is a survivor of, or vulnerable to sexual exploitation in South East Asia. Your purchase will create opportunities for survivor artisans to earn an income, share their stories and raise awareness against modern slavery.
But why jewelry?
When a young woman is rescued from sex slavery, she is placed in shelter care. During this time, she is often without employment and an income source. Jewelry making was chosen for its easy skill acquisition, providing survivors with the immediate satisfaction of success, as well as the medium of art therapy.
How we help
Senhoa artisans earn a fair trade salary. We also provide educational scholarships and support services to equip them with the ability to make and sustain healthy choices.Senhoa jewelry is sold worldwide.100% of proceedsfrom jewelry sales go directly to the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of young women sold into sex slavery in Southeast Asia.
Each time you purchase and wear a Senhoa jewelry piece, you are doing more than just accessorizing. You are making a statement about what you believe.Share their stories. Raise awareness against modern slavery.Accessorize your conscience.™
I’m honored to collaborate with Senhoa on this collection. All young women should have the chance to live a full, empowered life, and Senhoa’s efforts in Cambodia are an inspiration. Their model of education and skill building provides strength, courage and support to so many that are otherwise vulnerable. The collection very much mirrors my love of minimalism and art; with some pieces taking an average of five hours to make by hand, there is a true sense of craft and dedication in each piece. Creating a collection for both men and women was important to me. I’m a menswear editor, and my personal style is heavily influenced by men’s fashion, but the pieces are unique in that they truly appeal to both a masculine and feminine sensibility equally. I hope this broader appeal will help propel Senhoa’s ethic and aesthetic further into retail.
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!
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