Going to India

I’ve, quite suddenly, the opportunity to travel across India in February-March with Dr. Katherine Welch to document an informal survey trip to meet with NGOs who might partner with her organisation, Global Health Promise. GHP is dedicated to protecting mothers and their children from the impact of trafficking, prostitution, and sexual exploitation. Katherine will determine what GHP can offer concerning health issues faced by trafficked people, prostitutes and, particularly, the children of women who are in these situations.
Following that I’ll go to Mysore for a couple weeks to document the work of Sarah Jane Whitehouse, a Glasgow based artist I know from my past life in Scotland. Sarah will do art therapy with girls who were trafficked and now trying to re-enter society. Her therapy will focus on issues of identity, self-worth and trust.

This is sort of a proof-of-concept trip for me; I’m working on several connected projects right now that seem like they will probably coalesce into one at some point (with people I’ve had contact with concerning trafficking over the past few years and with BuildaBridge, the non-profit I’m associated with in Philadelphia). We attempt to place art therapists, via a program we have going at BuildaBridge, with partner organisations that work with children in some of the world’s toughest situations. As follow-up to that, we want to do ‘personal history’ projects and bring their stories out for awareness, support, and hopefully as a way to help people feel validated as human beings. On this trip I’ll take along a small kit of digital cameras and an audio recorder to produce several pieces such as these: MediaStorm (in the incoming weeks I’ll post more specifics on the type of work I’m aiming to do here. It’s a fine balance of sensitivity to keep when working with people who have already been exploited).

I’ve the promise of some preliminary funding for travel expenses; however, we would like to raise some further funding to cover equipment and supplies. BuildaBridge will act as my fiduciary agent for this trip so any donations you might like to make are tax-deductible. I’m hoping to put together some solid media from this trip to show what it is we are hoping to do and then I’ll seek further grant funding (we have already submitted one related grant and have further proposals in the works). Please contact me at euassociate@buildabridge.org if you would either like to make a donation or are interested in the project as a whole (I’ll also publish more detailed proposals in the incoming month concerning the project as it relates to BuildaBridge and, separately, the potential for telling the life stories of trafficked people worldwide. I’m working on a curriculum for training our artists to gather these stories in the field and, of course, empowering people to relate their own).

This has been my back-burner project for several years now; it seems it may come to the forefront soon. Again, this initial trip is an informal survey where I’ll be thinking through how to do the larger project. Much more to come…

Update: There is now a secure donation page for this; click here and then select “storytelling project” from the drop-down menu (be sure to do this as we have several programs on here and the donation needs to be designated towards a particular one).

Also, here is a description on the BuildaBridge site of what we hope to develop this into.