The Healing Power of Photography

Check out this blog we found from Polaris Project! Polaris Project will be partnering with art therapy programs in New York and New Jersey to teach women who have been trafficked photography as a means of expressing themselves. Amazing.  (From Polaris Project’s North Star blog)

The Healing Power of Photography

by K.Keisel NJ Program Coordinator

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything,” said Aaron Siskind, a revered American photographer of the 30s and 40s. What each photographer chooses to catch on film is a creative outlet for that individual; an inspiration that withstands the test of time. And for victims of trauma; this art form can be therapeutic.

Polaris Project New Jersey has developed a photography program for the victims of human trafficking we serve. The one-year program starts with beginner-level classes and advances through five stages. Four to six clients will be in each class.

The goal of this photography program is to help our clients not only tell their stories, but the stories of others. This medium gives them the opportunity to share the voice they want to share, and invest in concrete skills they can use in building their future.

We are excited to have already received donations of multiple disposable cameras to help us implement our program. The first beginner class was earlier this month. The survivors who have enrolled are incredibly enthusiastic about their work and the future possibilities. As they learn how to effectively operate a camera, understand the complexity of photography, and continue to develop their craft, we hope other venues and individuals may be willing to donate more cameras to the cause.

Starting this fall, we will be partnering with New Jersey and New York art therapy programs and local artists to create a sustainable artistic program in the New Jersey office. We greatly appreciate this initiative. As this partnership continues, we hope to make advanced classes available for clients who have completed our program so that they can continue their education with resources The New School can provide. By that point, participating clients will have a concrete and marketable set of skills that they can use to sell their photography and also gain scholarships into local universities. It is also our hope that the survivors that graduate from the program will feel empowered to teach beginner courses of photography to other survivors.

This program has been designed using the survivors’ input. It is not only a therapy program, but also promotes social change and economic stability.

If you would like to help these survivors build a foundation from which they can propel themselves into stable, independent lifestyles, please visit our Amazon wish list and purchase a camera that survivors can use throughout their yearlong course.

Photo credit: RiverOfGod

Polaris Project: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Check out this blog from Polaris Project and their visual collaboration of people taking a stand against sex trafficking: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

Polaris Project was founded 10 years ago to fight sex trafficking and has contributed mass amounts of collaboration, research, advocacy, and victim assistance during their 10 years. Here’s what they have to say about their work:

Named after the North Star that guided slaves towards freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project has been providing a comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery since 2002.

Polaris Project is a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking and serving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims, including men, women, and children. We use a holistic strategy, taking what we learn from our work with survivors and using it to guide the creation of long-term solutions. We strive for systemic change by advocating for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline 1.888.3737.888, and providing services to help our clients and all victims of human trafficking. (from www.polarisproject.org)

January declared Human Trafficking Prevention Month

President Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. While awareness of human trafficking is increasing there is still much work to be done to fight its occurrence. Polaris Project reports more than 12 million individuals are being exploited through sex and labor trafficking throughout the world. Through the tireless efforts of organizations like Transitions those who are affected by trafficking are finding sources of support. It is our hope that through developing a partnership with Transitions we are contributing to the fight against trafficking.

“The steadfast defense of human rights is an essential part of our national identity, and as long as individuals suffer the violence of slavery and human trafficking, we must continue the fight.” – President Obama

See more from on Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Please take some time this month to join the fight. Check out our resources page for more information on trafficking, and consider donating to our efforts or to the work Transitions is doing in Cambodia.