Hello all! My name is Aoife. I am a new ARI volunteer from Ireland. I arrived early on Sunday morning and after a crazy first day filled with adventure (despite feeling severely jetlagged!) and initial orientation of the city, I experienced my first workshop today. One of the other volunteers, Niki, was running the workshop this morning with nine girls from the New Life Centre, some of whom were victims of human trafficking. In the workshop, the girls were creating images that would form part of panels for a maze that is to be exhibited an an MTV Exit event on June 25th. The MTV event aims to raise awareness of human trafficking, and the maze will display images, ideas, feelings and facts about human trafficking. The aims of the workshop were to allow the girls to explore the theme of human trafficking in a safe and containing environment, enabling them to look at this issue creatively. The responses the girls had in the workshop were hoped to provide a catharsis, that would enable them to explore their thoughts in a visual rather than verbal form. We wanted to emphasise feelings of hope for the future and the positive aspects of the girls' lives, rather than dwelling on suffering.
The workshop started with some initial games, with the aim of introducing everybody. I felt a bit baffled at first, due to my very limited knowledge of the Thai language, but after a while I felt more comfortable! The workshop posed three central questions, which the girls had to answer on the paper. They also had to decorate their answers in a creative and idiosyncratic way. Niki had prepared an example based on the theme of acceptance (see left). The first question was: 'What is your hope for the future?' The girls came up with answers such as 'love,' 'no racism,' 'cooperation' and 'healthy kids.' The second asked the question: 'What are your personal strengths?.' The girls responded with such suggestions as 'cooking,' 'sewing,' 'singing' and 'being independent.' The final question challenged the girls to think of a message for the world. Such diverse responses as 'peace' and to 'see snow' were put forward.
After brainstorming these responses on the blackboard, each of the girls created a preparatory page, choosing one of these questions (in Thai), writing it on the paper, with the reponse written in bigger letters underneath. They also included some sketches that they were thinking of using in the finished piece. After this, they created their final piece, complete with imagery. Some of the girls chose the theme of equality and cooperation, showing people linking hands. Other images were linked to broader themes such as love or faith. Various materials such as fabric, crayons, felt tip pens, glitter glue, coloured papers and wool were used to create the images.
I was amazed at the diversity of the imagery and at the artistic ability of the girls. I genuinely look forward to the five weeks I have here and hope to stimulate the innate creativity that the girls possess. In this workshop, I had the feeling that new hope was being breathed into the lives of the New Life Centre girls.