Elena with a very happy JewelGirl, 2011
FAIR Girls Russia has gotten off to a great start this year! I couldn’t wait to share all the good news, but with all the amazing things happening for our 20 girls in Moscow, it was tough to find the time to sit down and write.
The holiday season can be kind of tough on the girls we help at FAIR Girls because many of them now live in either the state shelter for trafficked girls in St. Petersburg or they live in a state orphanages in Moscow. They don’t have family that they can count on anymore, and that is partly why they were trafficked or left on the streets.
During the holidays, Veronica and I tried very hard to find a way to bring “family” back to our JewelGirls. We organized songs, food, music, and donated gifts. We also told stories and talked about the girl’s feelings about family. We were so worried about the girls until one of our girls told us that she now things that FAIR Girls is her family. We were so touched!
One young 13 year old FAIR Girl, who I’ll call Ana is doing so much better at the start of 2012!! We only just met her as our newest survivor of exploitation, and at first she was really shy. She barely talked and was afraid of everyone. At first, she only used black or white beads and never looked at the colors. But, just in the first couple of weeks, she started to open up to us. And, her jewelry is amazing!!! I just love seeing that a girl who thought she had no value now sees she is a talented jewelry designer. She’s even helping 7 yr. old Angie who is also a new girl survivor in our program learn to make her own jewelry! Now, that is empowerment!
We have some pretty big dreams for 2012, and we are well on our way to achieving them! This year, FAIR Girls jewelry is going be featured and sold at two boutiques in Russia as well as the U.S. Embassy and a local Moscow independent cinema! This means that our girls will get to use their job skills more and more and the income they earn will help them get the things they need and build their self-esteem!
Here are just a few more of our FAIR Girls Russia goals for 2012:
1. Empower 70 JewelGirls with 900 hours of art therapy and economic empowerment workshops at our two JewelGirls locations in Moscow and St. Petersberg
2. Educate 100 high school students on how to stay safe from sex trafficking
3. Restore the lives of 70 girl survivors of forced labor and sex trafficking by providing housing, new clothes, counseling, and support
4. Inspire all of our supporters with amazing jewelry at 10 JewelGirls parties as well as online and in stores throughout the U.S. and Moscow
5. Honor Bethany Hamilton with our first ever “Honorary JewelGirls” title
This year is going to be an exciting and challenging year for our JewelGirls in Russia! We so appreciate all of your support and faith in our work to empower girl survivors!
Happy New Year from Russia,
A Fun JewelGirls Sales Party, many more to come!
Bethany Hamilton, pro surfer & honorary JewelGirl