Not only are the unique handicrafts from MadeBySurvivors handmade from recycled materials, but the pieces also tell stories of survival.
A gorgeous necklace crafted of recycled magazine strips in resin was made by Ugandan refugees torn apart by civil war. The adorable Eco-Chic zip top bag (which can be used as a small purse or wallet) is made from reclaimed garbage that littered the landscape of an Indian village. It was made by women and girls rescued from local brothels. These women are not only using materials that are sustainable, but they are also working toward financial independence and emotional healing.
Wonderful and unique artistic expressions from homemade paper to home décor can be found at MadeBySurvivors, a charity run by The Emancipation Network (TEN). TEN was started to aid survivors of slavery in rebuilding their lives, through sustainable income, education and help reintegrating back into society.
Think Slavery is Dead?
According to UNICEF, although slavery was outlawed in the U.S. in 1864, and it is not legal anywhere in the world, there are more slaves in the world today than at any time in human history. A staggering 27 million people around the world are estimated to be victims of slavery, for forced prostitution, labor, domestic work, and other forms of exploitation, with approximately 50% of victims being under the age of 18. UNICEF estimates that one million children will be forced into prostitution this year.
Governments in much of the world are only just beginning to address this issue, under pressure from anti-trafficking organizations and the international community. Government inaction is compounded by apathy and a lack of awareness in the general public.
TEN provides counseling, education, job training and art therapy. They offer part-time work as well, which helps women become economically self sufficient. (Disturbingly, some women enter slavery willingly, or sell their children into bondage, out of financial desperation.)
How Art/Economic Therapy Helps
Speaking about liberated former slaves, Sarah Symons, founder of TEN, said, "These girls are still capable of a joyful, productive and connected life. I hope TEN can play an ongoing role in their lives, and that we can watch them grow in to the strong, compassionate, and empowered women they are meant to be."
Art therapy can be manifested in many ways, including the creation of handmade goods, and according to TEN, it can be an excellent way to encourage survivors because it enables them to support themselves and live a meaningful, independent life that would not otherwise be afforded them. Says Becky Bavinger, director of TEN's India Programs, "Some of the girls who are restored back to their community find that they have no opportunity for a job. Without a source of income, they are re-trafficked, married off, or go back to the brothels."
MadeBySurvivors uses the practice of art therapy to help women develop self-confidence, to reduce stress and to gain insight on suppressed feelings. And looking at the talent that went in to each piece featured on MadeBySurvivors.com, you can't help but want to be a part of their recovery!Each piece has a story to tell and helps keep hope.
Here are some ways you can help:
Kate Peake is TDG's Community Intern