The plan for creating the Destiny Jewelry program is founded on the timeless military axiom that when the battle starts, the first thing that gets destroyed is the plan. We operate more like a business than a non profit, so we are driven by goals and results and keep our plans flexible. We don’t wait till we have every detail ironed out before we plunge forward. Sometimes we don’t know what we will do until we learn by doing. So while in this and future blogs, I will share with you our current plan – expect it to change a lot as the program grows.no comment
About 2 weeks ago I began focusing on putting all the pieces together to kick start the new Made By Survivors Jewelry program in Kolkata, India and it’s been a very interesting experience. Most of my time has been spent meeting with NGO’s, suppliers, carpenters and potential translators. It’s been very fun but I’m anxious to get started with the actual program and see what the girls are able to do. We should have the rooms and the girls ready within a week and then we can get going. I’m a little nervous as I have limited experience with jewelry making and I have to help train these girls in the skill. However we have a jewelry designer from the US named Dianna that will be coming over in several weeks to help out and get me up to speed. I also have a meeting with a Hindi teacher tomorrow morning and will hopefully start learning the language this week. I’m learning to be patient and not to expect things right away and this in itself is a challenge.no comment
With our trip to India in August fast approaching and also knowing the great need for funding right now, Shaylah and I decided to make a leap of faith and organize a fundraising event for TEN. Our "Dance For Freedom" is shaping up to be quite an amazing evening with dinner, dancing, live Big Band Jazz followed by DJ, silent auction etc.. as always, I am blown away by the out pouring of generosity and support I receive when I step out of that comfort zone and ask for help.no comment
For the past two years one of our core programs has been our Destiny Program in Kolkata, India. The survivors at Destiny have created a great sewing program and has helped us proved that the survivors can live, work, and thrive out of the shelters, completing their path to freedom.
Over the last several years, Made By Survivors customers have loved the Destiny bags, but our customers are also increasing their jewelry purchases. Our goal is to maximize the number of survivors we employ, and while we will continue to expand our sewing programs, we see a great future in jewelry.
So we decided to create a new jewelry program in India, the first phase of which we are calling Destiny Jewelry. This is not going to be simple beaded jewelry. We want to teach the survivors the higher value skills like metalsmithing so they can create and design a whole collection of jewelry for a wide variety of tastes and price ranges.
This program is much more than just a new, small and local center. Over the next few years we hope to employ at least 500 survivors across many locations throughout India. The Destiny Jewelry Center, when complete, will be both a production center, and a training center that we can use to train survivors to themselves become jewelry trainers. We will also be teaching all the business, and social work skills to the survivors so that as we expand the program, the core staff can themselves be survivors.
As we build the program, we are going to share everything we learn, our successes and our mistakes in this "Dust To Dazzle" blog. We are often asked by our customers "How do you do your work – How do you help the survivors become independent?" We have a lot of information on this website about our program, but there will be no better way for us to share our work than by including you in it from the beginning. We hope not only to share our experiences, but also to build a community of supporters and volunteers who can help us build and expand this program.
We have been fortunate to receive funding to start this program from Singgod Foundation – we could not have done it without them! From the beginning, this program has been guided by the US jeweler Melisa Tyson, and we will be talking a lot more about her work in future posts.1 comment
The last three days have been complete madness in Kolkata. Holi, the Hindu festival of lights, is celebrated throughout India and even in many Hindu communities abroad. There are many myths that contribute to the current celebration of Holi, but one of the most well known is the love play of Krishna and Radha. Lord Krishna has often been portrayed as a naughty prankster in his childhood and a lover-boy in his youth. His beloved Radha and the cowherd girls ‘Gopis’ in general loved him even more for his pranks and eve teasing.no comment
I’ll give it to you straight: the past few weeks have been pretty tricky. Less than a month ago, I managed to leave my family for seventeen days, travel across the world, and volunteer with The Emancipation Network right in the thick of it all – the epicenter for human trafficking and a hub of lively, beautiful sex slavery survivors and the heroes that care for them – Kolkata, India. My eyes saw it. My hands touched it. My soul felt it.2 comments
MEET OUR SURVIVORS AND INDIA STAFF – LEARN MORE ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND HOW WE FIGHT IT:
Twice each year we make site visits and take a team of volunteers to work with survivors and high risk kids at our partner shelters. We assess programs, and offer therapeutic art project to kids, teens and adults, to build relationships and to learn more about their needs, hopes and dreams, so that we can provide continuing and meaningful services throughout the year. Next trip is scheduled for Jan. 2012.1 comment
A few days ago, a partner organization in Kolkata informed us of a dental clinic being held for NGO staff members and the women they serve. We were invited to bring the Destiny team for this dental clinic, and quickly informed our women to mark their calendars. Dental hygiene is something severely lacking in the red light areas and slums, where our women lived for much of their lives. Some have never even seen a dentist, so the thought of going was caused a bit of anxiety.no comment
So my jet lag has passed. I’ve had a date night with my husband – Misaki sushi! I’ve planned a night out with friends. I’ve enjoyed winter school vacation with my family and several hours of afternoon cuddling with my babies. And while I’d love to extend the doting and atta-girls from friends and loved ones, I’m ready to publicly admit that I’m "back in action" after my seventeen day trip to India. And lucky for me, part of that action is keeping up with this blog as requested by TEN founders, John and Sarah. An opportunity to regularly share my perspective – that of an everyday, suburban mother of five, household executive, modern day abolishionist, women’s rights activist, writer of the divine in the ordinary, community leader and life loving student of the journey. And while I’m lovin’ how all thisl sounds on paper, please note life’s never as easy as I say it is. Motherhood, womanhood, and freedom fighting is all pretty humbling work, so we just gotta start somewhere. Right here is as good a place as any…4 comments