Art Against Exploitation

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August 23, 2012

Get your mind around this: Girls in juvenile detention reaching out to girls in India who are trapped in the sex trade. Their backgrounds are similar—girls in detention have an astonishingly high incidence of sexual abuse and are often victims of sexual trafficking here in the Bay Area. They both suffer from trauma.  And they both need to feel worthy and have hope. In this instance, art is the answer.

Quilt 1

This summer, The Art of Yoga Project embarked on a very special partnership with the amazing Anchal Project.  The Anchal Project is a textiles non-profit offering employment alternatives to commercial sex workers in Ajmer and Kolkata, India.  Late last year, we met with Anchal co-founder, Devon Miller, and planned this exciting cross-cultural collaboration. Due to a generous grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Donor Circle for the Arts Fund, we are able to complete this project in two of our detention facilities!

The quilts pictured here are the fruits of a 6-week workshop where 5 girls at our Santa Clara James Ranch facility explored places of personal power and refuge through fabric collage. In the spirit of giving, or seva, the girls donated their work to be sold to help sponsor a young commercial sex worker in Ajmer, India to become an Anchal artisan. In fact, one quilt was supposed to be kept for themselves and the girls chose instead to auction both quilts at an upcoming Art of Yoga event.

On August 11th, our beloved advisor and master yoga teacher, Desiree Rumbaugh, offered an inspiring and energetic yoga class to a full house at Breathe Yoga Studio in Los Gatos  as a fundraiser for the Art of Yoga. The quilts were displayed and two lucky and generous participants bought them when auctioned! When the girls at James Ranch heard the news, they were thrilled and empowered by their giving.

Quilt 2

Stay tuned for photos of quilts from our San Mateo Camp Kemp site!

Perhaps most inspiring to me were the letters, full of compassion and empathy, that the James Ranch girls wrote to the women in India. Some poignant examples:

“I pray for you, and if you have children, them also. I wish you to stay strong and don’t ever give up…It’s sad because the situation you’re in, but one day, everything will be okay, keep your hopes high.”

And

“…Keep in mind that you guys are worth something. In somebody’s eyes you’re all beautiful in any way. In and out.”