What is Art House - it is the place of opportunities, of second chance gift.
This workshop recently opened for the benefit of the women we help. It is the place where over 25 women, single mothers and girls from the integration program of 'Beginning Of Life' find employment and come to see their talents and skills materialise into beautiful art works. Whether every day or a few times a week, single mothers, coming here, have opportunity to either learn to work and perform orders, producing goods for the Art Story shop. All their work is fully paid out of the goods they make and sell. From this, they are able to earn sufficient money to develop self-support and care for their young families. Furthermore, Art House is an amazing environment which welcomes communication, emotional support and encouragement. It is a favourable environment for single mothers and girls to learn labouring skills and share the experiences and issues they face, without ever being judged or rejected for what they have and can do.
One of the best examples within the Art House project is Natalia, Natalia was born and raised in a very poor family. After her parents died more than 12 years ago, she left to live with her two brothers. However, all she ever saw in her parents’ house was humiliation and pressure. Due to the constant pressure from her brothers as well as the very low living conditions, she was forced to leave the family home. But she had nowhere to go, so she agreed to cohabit with a man from her village. This man was regularly subjecting her to violence and forcing her to consume alcohol. On top of that, he started to force Natalia to have sex with other men. Yet through all this Natalia kept silent.
In March 2012, 7-months pregnant Natalia was admitted to the municipal hospital where she was put on the critical list. She had again been subjected to severe physical and sexual abuse. According to doctors, as a result of all she had experienced, Natalia had both an acute psychiatric disorder and a physical disability.
When she was sent from the rehabilitation center for victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking ‘House of Change’, we discovered that - at age 32 - she could neither read nor write. She only had the first grade of rural school. The House of Change team also established that Natalia’s life-skills level was so low that she did not know how to do many basic things and was afraid of everything new. While at the hospital, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy Luka. In the spring of 2015, Natalia and her son took the first steps into the early development program of ELC for further help regarding their holistic transformation.
Now, after more than a year Natalia and her son are happy to see real, measurable results at all life levels. Back in her younger years, lacking anything close to a parental role model, Natalia never learned what it means to dedicate yourself to a child’s development, to love him, or to work hard in order to support your family’s needs. Through attending ELC, Natalia not only got the chance to educate herself and her child, but also developed skills in sewing and manufacturing. This was made possible by being able to leave Luka in the care of ELC’s social teachers for several hours each week in order to go to Art House to work.
Today, she has gained a lot of experience in working with the sewing machine. She is one incredibly motivated woman building a better future for her and her family. Now, Natalia has her own house, she is able to pay for her monthly expenses and pay her son’s kindergarten fees, and manage her daily life with the income. She said to us:
“Here I met the people who reached out a hand to my vulnerable situation and gave me a chance for better living. Here I practically changed my social status and gained confidence in life.”
For Natalia, as for all the other women who said ‘yes’ to these opportunities for transformation, time and hard work brought smiles back to their faces and living hope to within their hearts. Now that things are different, they are able to focus and dedicate more energy and learned skills to building family sustainability, where both women and their children can grow in safety and, step by step, develop a healthy way of living.
Article from Beginning of Life Newsletter 2016
Natalia not real name
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