Art Therapy To Help Trafficking Survivors, At-Risk Youth In India

By Tom Waddill
The Huntsville Item, Texas

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Monica Watkins traveled to India last fall with a team representing a nonprofit group called Beauty for Freedom. Working with an India-based anti-trafficking organization named New Light Kolkata, the Beauty for Freedom team expanded its platform to include art therapy initiatives for trafficking survivors and at-risk youths in developing countries like India.

The Huntsville Item, Texas

Firsthand, Monica Watkins witnessed how powerful art can be. She watched young people who had survived harrowing experiences living as slaves in one of India’s notorious red-light districts turn into painters, photographers, musicians, fashion designers and more.

Watkins also watched these young people change before her eyes.

“Art is the greatest equalizer,” Watkins told The Item last week. “Anyone can create, and in those moments, we are all acknowledging that we are the same. We share our hopes, dreams, fears, love, disappointments and every other emotion through creative expression.

“The process of creativity can help anyone transcend difficult circumstances and can transport us, in those moments, to what the human spirit can create,” she added.

A proud graduate of Huntsville High School, Watkins traveled to India last fall with a team representing a nonprofit group called Beauty for Freedom. Working with an India-based anti-trafficking organization named New Light Kolkata, the Beauty for Freedom team expanded its platform to include art therapy initiatives for trafficking survivors and at-risk youths in developing countries like India.

“The world can be a harsh and cruel place to exist, and these kids have seen the worst of it, unfortunately,” Watkins explained. “It is our responsibility as a global community to heal the ills of this world. One step, one person, one child at a time — that is my personal mission.

“This type of outreach would be able to connect us directly with the survivors we serve globally. Project India was born from this ideology,” Watkins said as the Beauty for Freedom team prepares for the release of “Illuminate,” a book that features a collection of photographs created by the young people who visualized their community of Kalighat-West Bengal, Kolkata, India, in an empowered way.

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