Anti-Trafficking Tuesday: Art Therapy for Human Trafficking Survivors

13 September, 2011

in Art & Art Journaling,Human Trafficking & Social Justice

///Hello! If you’re new, Anti-Trafficking Tuesday is a weekly post discussing modern slavery, associated social justice issues, and how these interact with modern handmade culture.///

Hello, my friend!  I am SO excited!!  I got this wonderful email this past week from Women At Risk, the anti-trafficking organization that I’ve volunteered and worked with in the past. 

It’s about gathering supplies for art therapy for the women and kids in healing!!  Aaahh!!  So wonderful!

Paint in a muffin tin

Listen to this:

“Imagine that you are a child that has been chained to a wall for 7 years and finally rescued at age 11…sold day after day, night after night.  You can hardly express the pain you feel.  You are only 11.  Imagine the relief if you don’t have to verbalize your pain but can simply color, draw and share your heart through pictures.  Imagine that you are a woman, sold by your family against your will into the red light district and broken, forced to support them through the sale of your very soul.  Suddenly you find a safe place.  You need to share your heart but it is too painful.

Drawing is the universal language.  No words are necessary.  WAR has the incredible opportunity to take a trained Ph.D. in art therapy with us on the circle tour to train our leaders in how to help our precious wounded women and children recover and reconstruct their lives, hearts, self worth and world.   She is donating her time that is usually very expensive.  If you wish to be part of this unique opportunity…please pick something on the list to donate or donate financially and we will buy what is not donated.  Five safe houses will get the training that Dr. Hudak gives.  All the women on the trip will have the option to sit in and listen and learn.

The Elohim, the Creator God delights in our creativity which is a reflection of us being made in his image.  Indeed one Old Testament verse says he “decorates” our world and us.  There is great healing in both making things and using our hands.

For a person that has been paid my whole life to “talk”…I can still vouch for the power of doing things with one’s hands.  Women who can not “fix” their lives over night can “make a beautiful piece of jewelry” or “color their pain, sorrow or joy” and conquer something small.  Have you ever just been so frustrated that you stopped everything and mowed the lawn, washed the dishes or created a new wreath?  My kids know that when I start sweeping the clean floor or making new wreaths….I am frustrated and need to “do something.”  There is healing in the process of creation when words fail.

Colorful Feathers

When sharing with one safe house that we were bringing this new resource to them at our own expense, they excitedly shared with me that one of their “neediest women” is a new person due to art.  They gave her a room on the top floor to draw and color when she needed to decompress.  It has become the place that the women go to on their break to refresh, regroup and renew.  Suddenly this room is one more safe house sanctuary that all the women and their children go to when sad.

Through art they have found one more way to work through the pain of their lives and journey toward health and wholeness.  Another safe house that will be attending the Circle Tour from Cambodia has a whole room where small children born to the red light district come to “draw and tell their story”.  All these leaders are thrilled that we are bringing one more avenue of healing to them.

I know you will help me color the lives of these precious women and children in one more very practical way.  Some day I would love to have a wall dedicated to the art of these women in honor of their journey to wholeness.  Thank you for so faithfully helping me do new, creative, fun and meaningful activities in the lives of our women.  It is my privilege and joy to continually be looking for new ways to walk the valley of shadows with women toward dignity and worth.  The trip is in February, so we have to collect all this before Dec. 31st.  What a fun Christmas gift!

Coloring my world in as many ways as possible to reflect the Elohim:
Rebecca McDonald”

59 colour-pencils

Items needed from the States
Construction Paper (Various Colors)
Tissue Paper (Various Colors)
Brown Bags Small and Large
Origami Paper
Preformed Greeting Cards

Glues and Attachments
Paper Mache Paste
Paper Brads
Various Colored Pipe Cleaners

Craft Supplies
Colored Craft Sticks
Felt Squares
Plastic Craft String

So, here’s where you come in.  I need your ideas!!  I have some ideas on finding/gathering/buying this stuff, but the more the merrier, I say!

There’s the obvious: donate from my own stash, invite friends to do the same, host a party where people bring these as gifts for the ladies…what else?  I’d like to adopt this as one of my projects for the Fall season, so I want to do it big, and do as much as I can.  It hits every note, right?  It’s going to be so much, fun, I can’t wait!

Please, please, please share your genius with me & help me think of other good ways to round up these supplies.  Just so you know, there’s a longer list I deleted of all the supplies they will be buying in the countries where the safehouses are.  If you are interested in this list & possibly donating towards those, let me know, and I’ll send you the details in an email.

Friends, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!  I love when passions come together!

Even writing this, I’ve had a couple new ideas.  I’ll keep you posted on how things go!

So…do you have any thoughts on how I can do this up big?!

p.s. In case you’re wondering, some footnotes: Elohim is an ancient and modern Hebrew word for “God” or “The God”. She emphasizes it here because it is the word used at the start of both the Jewish and Christian holy texts which says “In the beginning God created….” The Circle Tour is a trip of professional and volunteer women who travel to the safe houses biannually to learn about the programs, get to know the women, teach them new skills, and love them as women and friends.  The phrase “valley of shadows” is from here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

ElizabethNo Gravatar

This is awesome! What a great way to help people through such a tough time. My recommendation would be to go to your local corporations (Like Target) and ask for supplies/money, and especially hit up your local craft stores. They might be willing to sell you stuff at cost, donating their profit. You could also leave fliers in said craft stores, telling them about your cause and where to send supplies. And you would be surprised at what Sunday School classes will do. Ask small group leaders at your church to make it a goal of their class to raise or bring in a certain amount. Best wishes!!!


ElizabethNo Gravatar

Elizabeth, thanks for taking the time to comment! You have good ideas. I especially like the idea of getting permission and putting out flyers to all the crafty peeps out there!


Dominique BegnaudNo Gravatar

THIS IS AWESOME!!! i am a grad student in training to become an art therapist and very interested in working with human trafficking victims!! I imagine you know of A21.. they may be able to help promote your trip and or help with funding?? they do lots of fundraising awareness events, like 5Ks! So exciting! I would love to keep in touch


ElizabethNo Gravatar


Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and commenting! Going to school for art therapy sounds wonderful!! Where are you going? I do know of A21. And this post was last year, so the trip was all good, but I’m so glad we connected anyway. I’d love to hear more about your studies.


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