Senhoa Foundation

Supporting vulnerable persons and survivors of human trafficking by providing income-generating opportunities, social reintegration, and programs for self-empowerment. We believe in: - Income generation so that vulnerable women can gain economic independence. - Educational and social programs for intellectual empowerment. - Using business sensibilities to achieve humanitarian goals.
Jan 15, 2016

An Artisan's Story

Our artisans at a self-improvement workshop.
Our artisans at a self-improvement workshop.

Sovanna is 22 years old and one of our most skilled and committed artisans in our program. She came from a farming family with 6 other siblings in the household. Aside from economic struggles, Sovanna had to deal with domestic violence at home.

In grade 8, Sovanna quit school to find more income for her family. Her family wanted her to work in the capital at a sewing company. Although she missed school and wanted to continue her studies, her responsibility to care for her family had her planning to migrate to Thailand for a better opportunity.
In 2010, she was able to move to Siem Reap and found a job as a nanny for $0.50 USD a day. She became friends with one of our artisans who eventually introduced Sovanna to Senhoa and recruited her for jewelry training. She was able to get not only a better salary but also the opportunity to return to school. She began working part-time at Senhoa and continued her studies until she graduated Grade 12 in September 2015. 
“I would like to say thank you to Senhoa Foundation and donors who have supported my education. If I didn’t meet Senhoa, I might be a migrant in Thailand” - Sovanna 
She hopes to continue her studies at a university in 2016.
Our artisans at work. Photo by John D Russell.
Our artisans at work. Photo by John D Russell.
Dec 9, 2015

Evaluating, Comparing & Contrasting

At Lotus Kids Club we feel we have been successful in keeping with our mission statement as well as achieving and keeping our focus on our goals and objectives. Yet we also understand we should not be complacent and that there is always room for improvement. We know it is important to have an outside objective evaluation of our programs if we want to provide quality service to the families we serve. In addition the LKC staff has opportunities to visit and observe programs similar to ours and have trainings from professionals that dovetail their in-house trainings.

We have had both formal and informal comprehensive observations and evaluations of the work LKC does. LKC tries its best to implement the recommendations generated from these evaluations when possible. For example, we’ve made changes to make our Parent Meetings to be more engaging by adding fun activities, we listened to the youth attending our Afternoon Community Program expanding our computer and English learning classes, and our recordkeeping has been upgraded—all as recommended. We at LKC are not afraid of change and know that in fact change is to be embraced if we want to continue to improve our service delivery.

When our teachers and support staff visit other pre-school programs in Siem Reap, they get a sense of what else is offered regarding early childhood education. This proved to be very interesting for the staff comparing and contrasting what they have learned and the work they do at LKC. They visited a government-run pre-school (allegedly one of the best), and they visited a similar program at a highly touted public primary school. They also visited a private, well-funded, Western-run private pre-school.

As our teachers now embrace LKC’s play-based curriculum and have seen the positive impact it has on the children’s learning and behavior they were a bit disheartened to see the government and public school programs’ focus on academics with little time for play. To be fair, government training and resources are limited in Cambodia for early childhood education. I believe visiting the well-run private pre-school program and speaking with the director and teachers validated their work at LKC as they, too, have a play-based curriculum.

We have had visitors with a strong knowledge of early childhood education and a long history of working with young children as well as youth in some cases. They share with the teachers their observations, often praising their work with the children and discussing with them best practice and offer suggestions. This reinforces their belief that we at LKC are providing quality care to the children. That is care and teaching which will help them be successful in their pursuit of education and give them a positive sense of self.  

LKC will continue to evaluate our work to ensure that we stay true to our mission and do our best to reach our goals and objectives.

Oct 9, 2015

Reflections of the Alchemy Project at Senhoa

Students from the Alchemy Project with Senhoa
Students from the Alchemy Project with Senhoa

Sydney Scherr is a a jeweler and jewelry design professor at Raffles College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A few years ago she started a project (the Alchemy Project) to teach sustainable jewelry design to victims of sex trafficking. She leads groups of students to instruct and create designs through simple techniques so that they can earn a living. In 2012, Sydney and a group of her students came to Siem Reap and taught our artisans at Senhoa new techniques and donated tools that they sourced locally. She and her students loved the experience and returned to teach another workshop in September 2015. This is her relfections from the week with our artisans.

 

Time has transformed Senhoa, and the young women associated with the program. In 2012 the emphasis was on working with women recently rescued from the bondage of human traffickers. This premise dovetailed perfectly with the intent of the Alchemy Project: to teach skills that create an economic alternative to what has been the hard reality of the young lives impacted at the hands of traffickers.

 

Returning to Senhoa in 2015 reignited the Alchemy Project. This was a joy and a gift. For Senhoa the new direction is one of looking at the future and not focusing on the past. The young women are thriving and clearly moving beyond their history. These women continue to be my heroes as they embody hope: it resonates from their warmth and their gracious laughter and wide open hearts.

 

Without a doubt the young women we went to Cambodia to teach taught each of my students and myself more of what it means to be grateful in our lives than we were able to teach them about jewellery. The women of Senhoa taught us about living with little and feeling abundance. My students and I found the Senhoa students eager to learn. And eager to laugh. The warmth that was expressed between all of us was genuine and full of acceptance. Through this we found we had common ground: there are few who come through life without a story that touches someone’s heart and we felt the thread that joined us in spirit.

 

Senhoa has made a remarkable difference in the lives that it touches. The women are paid employees, making beautiful beaded jewellery. They are appreciated and cared for. They are valued-the very sense of self-worth I hope the Alchemy Project can also bring to their experience, and to others who survive the unfathomable. It is the intent of the Alchemy Project to advance their jewellery making knowledge so that if they chose to venture out on their own, in their own business, they will be better able to realize that dream, with knowledge, tools and metal provided to them as a humble beginning.

 

The women of Senhoa, over the years, have taught me many lessons. That a bright future is rich and alive in the pulse of women and that being valued, and valuing ourselves, matters. That we can choose not to be victims of our history. Their young lives matter, and on a personal note: their lives have mattered to me unfailingly.

 

I learned where hope lives.

Hope lives in the eyes of the young women of Senhoa and The Alchemy Project.

 
   

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