As the Her Future Coalition jewelry studio works on my next collections, I would like to share their story.
The story starts with composer Sarah Symons. “I was writing and recording music for TV, and in 2002 a song I had written was used as the title song in a film which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. At the festival, I saw a documentary about child sex trafficking between Nepal and India. I initially did not want to see the film. I thought it would be sad and depressing, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.”
The film was indeed deeply disturbing. It featured survivors of child sex trafficking who led rescue agencies into the brothels they'd escaped, in order to save other girls. Rather than feeling there was nothing she could do about it, Sarah left the theatre inspired by the courage of the survivors, risking their lives to fight slavery and save others. Compelled to find a way to help, she contacted one of the organizations featured in the film and was invited to visit their shelter in Kathmandu.
“At the shelter, I got the idea for selling products made by survivors as a way to help them earn an income and rejoin society, and also to raise awareness of global slavery.”
It was the beginning of the jewelry program.
Survivors were taught the intricacies of jewelry making and sold their creations. As goldsmithing is a lucrative career in India, and currently male-dominated, it was a brave, empowering move towards their future.
That was 16 years ago. Since then, the jewelry program has become one of many and the organization has become Her Future Coalition, providing education, shelter, job training, and mental health programs to survivors of trafficking and girls at risk. A woman-led team and dedicated local partners work together to provide compassion-led solutions which break the cycle of trauma and establish a new cycle of trust, well-being, choice and independence.
This year, there's been a very exciting development! Thanks to many generous donors, Her Future was able to renovate a building in Kolkata to create the Learning Center, a larger space to house programs which can help many more women and girls. The Learning Center contains a library, a yoga and events room, a professional training kitchen, an outreach center for women in forced prostitution, 3 computer labs, an English language lab, 3 classrooms, 3 counseling rooms, offices, and of course - a jewelry studio.