Seven days of silence, can you imagine? She was small for her age, a mere 16 years old but pregnant. For years, her brother and "caring" uncle had repeatedly sexually abused her. One day, she became pregnant. That is when I met her. Medani was sent by court order to Ma-Sevana, a home for mothers aged 10-18 who were victims of rape or incest in Sri Lanka. While this place would protect her, she had been taken from her home, friends, education... her childhood. The result was seven days of silence and absent, longing stares that could not be overcome by any amount of counseling.
However, there was a glimmer of hope, and it came in the form of small glass beads. Medani took an interest in sorting and stringing the colorful beads I brought to Ma-Sevana to start an income-generating project for her and other girls like her. After one day of beadwork, she spoke. Three weeks later, she became a leader in the home, helping other girls create beautiful beadwork. Medani taught me to see people for their strengths rather than for their troubles. She proved that even the most abused can be active, especially when pursuing something that they find meaningful.
Medani is one of 32 girls I have worked with through Emerge. Emerge supports these teenage mothers in creating and selling jewelry as a means of financial empowerment and personal transformation. It fosters creativity, selfexpression and self-worth. Girls create unique jewelry for export and I sell the jewelry in the US with the profits returning to their bank accounts in Sri Lanka. Emerge has supported these vulnerable girls in generating the money and skills needed to build strong futures. With confidence, seed money, and knowledge of how to leverage that money, I plan to make sure Medani and many others will never have to be silent again.