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!
Jenny teaching the girls about color scheming.
Showing a few tricks of the trade
Applying newly acquired skills