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Jun 6, 2018

Learning to teach victims of rape and sexual abuse

This month we started working with a group of women who have been raped or sexually abused (including childhood abuse). These women are seriously traumatised as a result of the crimes against them, and it's very sensitive work. Luckily we're working with a partner organisation called Freedom Together and the director of that organisation gave us specialist coaching on how to work safely with victims of rape and sexual abuse.

It's very important, for example, that we don't touch the women (something that as dance teachers we do naturally). In bellydance we will often take hold of a woman's hips to help us demonstrate a particular move, but as you can imagine, this could be a horrible experience for a woman recovering from having her body violated. Even though we would always ask permission before touching anyone in our dance classes, Louise, who runs Freedom Together, explained that it is very difficult for a woman to say no - particularly as we are in a position of authority when we are teaching.

It's also vital that we don't approach a woman from behind, as this could trigger a terrifying memory for a woman who has been raped. Louise also explained that a woman might suddenly become angry for no reason, and that we shouldn't take it personally. This coaching session really was such an eye opener and helped us understand a little of the perspective of a woman who has been through such a dreadful, traumatic experience.

Freedom Together is running a programme of weekly classes to help these women recover their voices and make peace with their bodies. Singing sessions, yoga sessions and our bellydance is helping women take back ownership and help them express themselves in a safe, supportive environment.

We're so grateful to be part of Freedom Together's programme, and we really hope we can make a positive contribution to the participants' recovery. We are particularly grateful to all of you for helping make our work possible. Thank you.

Apr 30, 2018

Thank you so much for your support

We are so grateful for your support over the past few months. Thanks to you we have been able to provide bellydance sessions in a rural hospice in the UK, giving much needed joy, laughter and gentle exercise, not only to women with cancer, but to carers and bereaved relatives too.  Everyone has enjoyed them enormously and several women commented that they hadn't had so much fun for ages.

We have also been approached to provide some sessions for an organisation providing support to women with mastectomies and we are really looking forward to helping these women get back in touch with their bodies in a positive way, as well as boosting their sense of femininity and sensuality.

As well as the fundraising we have done here on GlobalGiving, we've had wonderful support from the UK bellydance community who have been organising fundraising events for us. In fact we have decided to retire this project on GlobalGiving, and concentrate our efforts on fundraising within the dance community, so that we don't spread ourselves too thinly.

Our GlobalGiving fundraising continues on our larger project for victims of domestic violence, rape, war and slavery, so please do consider supporting our work on that project. Just follow the link below if you would like to donate.

Thank you once again - we couldn't do anything without you!


Mar 8, 2018

Some heartlifting stories of change on International Women's Day

On this, International Women's Day, we wanted to share a few heartlifting stories from our bellydance classes with women escaping violence, abuse and slavery.

Living in secret safe houses where they have been brought after their escape, the women we teach are isolated, far from home, and dealing with the long term effects of the dreadful abuse they've suffered. They receive counselling and support from the refuge, as well as having a safe home for maybe the first time ever.

Bringing fun and laughter...

But simple fun is far rarer for them to find and spirits can be very depressed; so the joyful, uplifting bellydance classes we bring to the homes are enormously healing. The women find themselves laughing and giggling together as they learn to move, and dancing in a circle together to happy music lifts their spirits enormously

Last week one of the women confided to our teacher that she had changed the day of her regular counselling sessions, so it didn't clash with the bellydance class. She had decided that she was getting more from her bellydance class than the counselling!

... to women who have suffered dreadfully

In another project Zahida, our teacher, has been teaching women who have fled from war and conflict. Many of these are very young women who are heavily pregnant as a result of being raped as part of the war in their homeland. Zahida says that they are usually very depressed when they arrive in the class, but soon they are all laughing together and losing themselves in movements and the music.

...and young women in desperate peril

And in the next few weeks we will be starting to teach a group of women who have escaped from sex traffickers. They were all freed together and now live in a safe house. Like all the projects we work in, these women are still in real danger from being discovered, so our work is undertaken in great secrecy, but they are so excited about starting bellydance classes!

If you would like to make a donation to our work today, you can be sure your hard earned cash is going direct to bringing joy to women who have suffered beyond belief. We particularly need funds to support our new work in the safe house for the women who have escaped from sex traffickers and we would be really grateful for any donation, however small.

Any small amount can help

Regular donations are our life blood - they enable us to plan ahead and know that we can continue our work into the future. So if you are able to make a small regular donation that would be enormously helpful. But all donations, small or large, one-off or regular, will really make a difference.

Please visit our page and make a donation today, to help us help these women who truly deserve a little bit of  joy in their lives

Thank you

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