When You Come to My Workshop or Buy My Art, You Invest in Freedom
Imagine one young woman standing on a street corner. She’s ragged, her body worn, her spirit in a slump.
Her life of turning tricks selling her body is all she’s ever known… because her mom and grandmother are there on the street with her doing the exact same thing.
This is the only life she’s imagined for herself. Thoughts of getting educated are foreign to her… it’s not even a choice that’s conceivable.
Can you imagine that this story of three generations of women enslaved in the sex trade is not an abnormal story of many women in Bulgaria?
Imagine a family in India, part of the lowest caste system. They’re considered sub human by their society. Parents eek out a living picking up wood and reselling it, or manually labouring to move heavy rocks from one location to another.
They only wish they could adequately feed all their children. One day a promise of a better job in a far away place for their daughter comes up. She’ll be a waitress in a cafe, they say.
Instead, as she leaves her family, her passport is stripped from her. She is forced to travel by plane and train to a foreign country where she is made to sexually service multiple men a day.
Can you imagine how helpless she feels? Coming back, even if she found a way to escape, would bring further shame to her family.
Closer to home in the suburbs, imagine a young girl goes to the mall with her friends. She meets a guy who quickly showers her with compliments and asks her out.
At first, he’s an amazing boyfriend. He buys expensive gifts. He treats her like a queen.
And then, when her trust is hooked, he abruptly turns without warning to repay him. She suddenly owes him for all he’s given her. He demands she give her body to strangers to pay the debt she owes him.
Or maybe it’s one who runs away to escape the violence she experiences at home. 78% of runaway teens are approached by a predatory pimp within 24 hours of leaving home.
Rewriting a Story of Slavery to Freedom
Enter compassionate, patient, wise recovery workers from Servants Anonymous and SA Foundation
SA Foundation have been fighting to end sexual exploitation for over 30 years. With a 70% success rate in their comprehensive short-medium-long term recovery program for women and their children, this is stellar in the world of recovery work.
They mentor and counsel the women through recovery, provide housing, job training and employment through Global Wonders, their social enterprise of jewelry and clothing made by the women.
Once a woman joins, they are part of the SA family for life.
And isn’t that what we all want as human beings? A place to be known, to belong, and be loved?
So much of the work SA does is about creating safe space for the women to reconnect with their hearts and find healing, in the context of a community that deeply cares for them. As they begin to walk a new path, they see hope and value their purpose in the world.
Connecting to the heart, with others in community, and with purpose of their place in the world — these are all things that my calligraphy workshops and art aspire to encourage.
It’s a no brainer for me to partner with them, giving 10% of all proceeds to support their vision and work to end human trafficking.
Each time you come to a workshop or buy something from me, you invest in the freedom of these women.
So, how can you respond?
Become educated and help raise awareness. If you don’t know much about how much do you know about how human trafficking works, give @_saf.life a follow or visit their website and other resources. Talk to others you know about it. Most don’t realize how it can happen right under our very noses.
Support the women by shopping for gifts at @safglobalwonders. Jewelry designs are created by the women in Vancouver, and made by the women in Nepal. Totes, scarves, and pj pants are made by the women in Vancouver.
Join me at a workshop to write notes of encouragement to the women. Your ticket there and any purchase from my prints shop directly supports SA’s work.
Donate directly to support SA’s good work if you feel compelled.
So far in 2018, together with your participation, we’ve been able to invest in several days of training for the women, providing them employable skills including computer knowledge, job training, sewing, and jewelry design.
And, as always, we continue to write and donate notes of encouragement to these women, as well as marginalized people in recovery served by other good organizations.
If you have connections to organizations who would be able to use some notes of positivity to give to those they serve, please feel free to send them my way.