Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia

 
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Mar 31, 2012

Postcard: Project Site Visit

Village Senhoa Lotus Kids Club works with
Village Senhoa Lotus Kids Club works with

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.

Country Director, Debra, and Me at Lotus House
Country Director, Debra, and Me at Lotus House

Links:

Feb 16, 2012

Making Bigger Impact

Senhoa jewelry featured at NY Fashion Week 2012
Senhoa jewelry featured at NY Fashion Week 2012

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.

  • In November, NAAP (National Association of Asian American Professionals) San Diego teamed up with Senhoa to organize their 2011 Fall Professional Mixer to raise funds for the GirlEffect Competition.
  • In December, Senhoa collaborated with Freedom and Fashion (www.freedomandfashion.com) on a fair trade fashion show.
  • On February 9th, we joined with Visions of Faith to put on Love Around The World Through Chocolate – a unique Valentine’s Day event featuring desserts from premiere local and international chocolatiers and live performances from various artists.

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. 

Life Skills class
Life Skills class
Donating for the Gift Effect challenge
Donating for the Gift Effect challenge
Senhoa team at an awareness event in LA
Senhoa team at an awareness event in LA
Senhoa jewelry in Freedom and Fashion Magazine
Senhoa jewelry in Freedom and Fashion Magazine
Happy family =)
Happy family =)

Links:

Nov 17, 2011

Make a Fashion Statement

Lisa, Jenny, and Coco working on the designs.
Lisa, Jenny, and Coco working on the designs.

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!

Jenny training Senhoa artisans.
Jenny training Senhoa artisans.
Coco Rocha in Senhoa Jewelry shot by Nigel Barker.
Coco Rocha in Senhoa Jewelry shot by Nigel Barker.
Lotus Kids Club.
Lotus Kids Club.

Links:

Aug 16, 2011

Breaking Boundaries, Moving Forward

Graduation Ceremony for Senhoa Vocational Program
Graduation Ceremony for Senhoa Vocational Program

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

Gifts made for each graduate as encouragement
Gifts made for each graduate as encouragement
Coco Rocha and our Executive Director Lisa Nguyen
Coco Rocha and our Executive Director Lisa Nguyen
Adding finishing touches to Coco
Adding finishing touches to Coco's new collection!

Links:

May 9, 2011

The Next Chapter: Love. Patience. Strength.

The Antoinette Earrings made by girls in Cambodia
The Antoinette Earrings made by girls in Cambodia

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.

Senhoa Pilot Program in India
Senhoa Pilot Program in India
Girls in the Senhoa Pilot Program in India
Girls in the Senhoa Pilot Program in India
Supermodel Coco Rocha in a Senhoa Bracelet
Supermodel Coco Rocha in a Senhoa Bracelet

Links:

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Organization

Senhoa Foundation

Huntington Beach, CA, United States
http://www.senhoafoundation.org

Project Leader

Lisa T.D. Nguyen

Executive Director
Huntington Beach, CA Cambodia

Where is this project located?

Map of Empower At-Risk Girls in Cambodia