As time carries on, constant and steady, we have lifted our heads from diligent endeavors to find that another three months have come and gone! Reflecting on moments now passed, we become overwhelmed by all that has transpired in such a short period.
For the months of May and June, our students in the Senhoa Vocational Program in Cambodia participated in work placement internships. The girls were placed in various work fields and industries in order to enhance both professional development and preparation for reintegration into a functioning society. Eight amazing companies in Siem Reap collaborated with Senhoa in creating this opportunity for our students. Each week the interns spent four hours a day, Monday to Thursday, in their various job placements practicing specific tasks that related back to the life skills lessons that had learned in training. On Fridays, interns attended Reflections classes where they discussed and processed all they had experienced and learned throughout the week. At the beginning, every intern was extremely nervous and apprehensive of being in a normally functioning work place. Unfortunately, three of the girls were unable to complete their internships due to personal reasons. However, the 16 girls who completed their placements gained a great deal of confidence throughout the experience and came to enjoy their work environments and supervisors. We are very proud to say that, upon the conclusion of the internships, three of our students were even offered part-time positions!
On July 14th we celebrated with the very first graduating class of the Senhoa Vocational Program! After a full year of classes in life skills, business skills, and language study, as well as jewelry training and internships, 16 young women, in beautiful dresses and personally designed earrings, walked the stage and received an official certificate of completion. They were congratulated and honored by the attendance of Senhoa Cambodia Staff, a few VIP guests from the US, Lotus Transition House Staff, Rapha House Staff, and NMSI interns. After one week of rest and vacation, the graduates have now transitioned from students of the Senhoa program to paid part-time jewelers. Senhoa Cambodia staff are actively looking for alternative potential job placements and other vocational programs for the graduates.
Back in the States, Senhoa is excited to announce our collaboration with supermodel Coco Rocha in the creation of our newest jewelry line: Coco Rocha for Senhoa. (Click the link for Coco’s own sneak preview of designs!) This week, Coco will be at the Senhoa Head Office to work with Jenny Van our Creative Director, in finalizing the collection. Jenny has been working tirelessly to incorporate techniques that the girls in Cambodia have learned while also staying true to Coco’s designs. We are very excited for the finished version of this collection!
As always, we are thankful for your continued support as we press on, constant and steady, one moment at a time. Visit our NEW blog and join us in creating beauty out of brokenness
It seems that time passes ever so quickly when exciting things are happening!
On March 8th, we celebrated International Women's Day with the launch of our third collection Pavo: Love, Patience & Strength, inspired by our Creative Director Jenny Van. In preparation for the new collection, Jenny flew to Cambodia to teach 20 girls how to become beading artists. Using beads donated by Bead & Button Magazine, the girls practiced the art of wiring, wrapping, stringing, color scheming and much more!
Then on March 10th, Senhoa was selected to present at an International Woman’s Day event organized by Accenture, Singapore. The objective of the event was to acknowledge the fast-rising movement of women's empowerment around the world. We had 25 minutes in front of our well-to-do Singaporean Corporate counterparts to make known the issue of human trafficking and Senhoa's efforts in addressing this issue. Our Country Director from Cambodia spoke from first-hand experience on programs which teaches the girls their value and beauty as women, provides them with the foundations for learning, and exposes them to a more meaningful world. The audience was completely engaged and responded with nods of acknowledgement, head shakes of disbelief, and smiles of appreciation. We were also able to set up a display for the promotion and sales of our jewelry. Having seen the hands from which the collection bloomed and then seeing it showcased in a 5-Star Business Hotel in Singapore caused a swelling pride and joyful tears! All of the original jewelry pieces, designed and made by the girls, were admired and resulted in over $4000 of sales!
CURRENTLY, we are working on the creation and production of a bridal collection! Supermodel Coco Rocha recently debuted a piece from the collection at Isaac Mizrahi's Good Shepard services event!
We are also excited to report a pilot program which is currently under way in Kolkata, India to evaluate the prospect of extending Senhoa's services to young women in a new corner of the world. Similar to our program in Cambodia, we are bringing to India income generating opportunities and life skills training for victims of human trafficking and for young women who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. We currently have ten girls in the program, which is conducted in cooperation with the Women’s Interlink Foundation (www.womensinterlinkfoundation.org) and Made by Survivors (www.madebysurvivors.com).
Recently the girls in our India pilot program were asked, "If you could be anything in this world, what would you want to be and why?" A gentle sixteen-year-old voice replied, “I want to be a tree to bear fruits for people to eat.” It is this kind of simple and innocent thinking that reminds us of the resilience in these girls. They have each lived through a horrific and traumatic past, yet they face the world with a smile and are full of hopes and dreams. Moments like this are the reason Senhoa chooses to continue our tireless efforts to make those hopes and dreams a reality.
As you can see, doors are being opened one after another here at Senhoa as we continue to move forward! We thank you for your continued support and invite you to keep up with us regularly at www.senhoa.blogspot.com.
It seems like life is constantly exciting here at Senhoa and that is how it should be!
To kick off, the glamorous, exciting stuff first.
On the 8th November 2010, Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards 2010 was held at Carnegie Hall, New York. The guest list boasted figures like Oprah, Julia Roberts, Hilary Swank, Chelsea Clinton, Cher and Janet Jackson. But most importantly, among them was Supermodel Coco Rocha in Senhoa jewelry! We want to send a big THANK YOU to Coco and her hubby, James Conran, for their support.
And then over and across the border, the Gemini Awards honors the best in Canadian television as determined by members of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and other industry professionals (similar to the Emmy’s here in the US). Actress Krystin Pellerin attended the event wearing… Senhoa Jewelry of course! Thanks to our dear friend and Fashion Designer, Thien Le, who conspired to make this happen.
And on the subject of Thien Le, in early January 2011, Senhoa hosted Thien in Cambodia where he trained some 30 girls from our partner’s shelter in Battambang, Cambodia. Thien conducted a 5-day intensive training, teaching the girls how to silk screen, how to cut fabric with accuracy, how to utilize fabric sparingly, how to adjust machine tension according to fabric thickness and other tricks of the trade. Thien was deeply impressed by the girls’ keenness to learn and how quickly they picked up his lessons. By the end of the 5-day training, the girls had worked together in teams of four to make samples of the reversible Love Rescue Heal tote, and a sophisticated kimono wrap. Senhoa is currently working with students from Harvard University and Brown University to have the totes available for sale in their respective bookshops.
Rewinding to 2010, in late November, Ms Jenny Van, Senhoa’s Creative Director was cooped up designing a top-secret couture collection for Senhoa. On 3 December 2010, Senhoa was featured in a fashion show on Asia Entertainment, Inc. What better way to end a landmark year at Senhoa than with a spectacular fashion show modeled in front of over 4 million overseas Vietnamese viewers!
AND NOW! Down to business!
I am excited to report to you on the progress of a Senhoa project called the CCPCR Lotus House. A partnership agreement was officially signed with the Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights on 21 October 2010 to launch this project, providing up to 15 young women with temporary accommodations. At the heart of this project are the provision of safe housing, gradual reintegration and the attainment of “sustainable freedom”. Our Lotus House aims to teach women the skills needed for independent living, help them find safe and secure employment and provide other needed life skills. To date, we have completed the following:
Things are happening at incredible speed here at Senhoa. Please follow our weekly blog at www.senhoa.blogspot.com.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to catching up with you again next time!
It has been 2 months since the Senhoa Young Women's Program commenced, and many events have unfolded in that time. It’s been crazy but because we all finish each week with a satisfied smile (and exhausted sigh), it’s a good crazy.
So this is how its chronologically gone down:
At last the 6th of September arrived. The scheduled date for the well-anticipated Program to begin. After a month of recruitment, screenings, planning, market trips, furniture Feng-Shui-ing and resource hunting, we were ready to receive our 18 quivering Lotus Buds.
The Senhoa Lotus Line-up includes:
11 girls from our Partner Shelter - girls over 16 years of age who have been deemed dedicated and behaviorally stable enough to participate. Apparently there was a lot of competition to get into the program because everyone had enjoyed the Senhoa Summer Camp so much!
And 7 girls from the community - these girls were screened by our extremely devoted Outreach Worker who assessed their family and financial situation and vulnerability into the sex industry.
We began with a 3-day induction where the girls made a pledge of commitment to the program; got a taste for the types of soft-skills lessons they’ll be attending and; played around with practice beads and wire, trying their hand at undiscovered craft work. At the end of their induction, each girl received a long-stemmed lotus bud, marked with their name. Ah, symbolism. Gotta love it.
In the first month of the Program, we had the girls all to ourselves- Public Khmer school had not yet started. The schedule was easily set and we all quickly fell into a routine: each Monday and Thursday was life-skills, Tuesday and Friday was reserved for Jewelry and each Wednesday was computer and PLAY (which I enjoy the most. Any idea how fun it is to watch girly, uncoordinated teenagers catch a ball?)
During that month we celebrated daily. The girls were enjoying all the lessons, happy to be engaged in something meaningful to them (except ‘play’ when they all suddenly had period cramps and headaches. Teen-aged girls are teen-aged girls everywhere.)
It was an especially exciting time when our former Country Director, Anh and our Creative Director, Jenny Van, flew all the way from the US of A for an intense training course in professional jewelry making! The girls impressed us with their fast learning! They showed persistence at every task, and mastered their skills quickly. For their efforts, each girl was rewarded with a framed certificate with their full name and picture. We also gifted each graduate with their own set of jewelry-making tools. The way the girls beamed when they received their frame and present was absolutely priceless!
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