The Following is an excerpt from a Blog Post on starfish-project.com, a current FIND Partner.
WHAT DOES SHELTER MEAN?
Sure, there is the obvious of 'a roof’. This kind of shelter could range from a home in the suburbs, to Buckingham palace, to a dry spot under a bridge. A roof is so important that in the US people often spend 30%-50% (or more) of their income on it. Paired with food and water these are the three things we need to live.
But beyond the idea of a ‘roof’, what does shelter mean?
The first think I think of when I think of shelter is safety. I am a very paranoid person - I double check the doors every night, always keep an eye on who is around me, and avoid walking alone at night… pretty much anywhere in town.
But safety goes even farther than that. There are people who I go to for shelter as well, people I feel safe with, people I can say just about anything to without them being shocked.
After safety I think of comfort. If I am going home after a long day, or running across the park to get out of the rain, it when I get to shelter that I can relax. It is a place to be warm when it is cold, a place to be dry when outside it is wet, and a place to be shaded and cool when the sun is out.
The world can be a harsh place sometimes and we all need shelter. We need an ear to listen, we need a hug, and sometimes we need people to help us forget about our troubles for a while and just laugh with.
Then, even more the comfort, shelter provides freedom. It allows us to make decisions about when and how we will interact with the world. It isn’t jail, we have the freedom to leave, but we also have the freedom to stay or come back. Shelter gives us the choice.
With this freedom of shelter we can be ourselves. Home is where we don’t have to hold up an image or try and impress anyone. It’s a place where people know our faults and accept us anyways.
Starfish Project and Shelter
Back in 2006 Starfish was just starting to make relationships with women working on the street. During this time creating a shelter was top priority as the had no place to go once they left their place of exploitation. The original shelter started that year has now grown to 3 shelters in 3 different cities in Asia.
Some of our shelters started out as a place to live and work but eventually the shelters were separated from the workshop and thewomen live and work in separate places, similar to most jobs in the US. A shelter, depending on the city, might be a house or an apartment, where the women live, cook, and relax together.
Women leaving a life of exploitation need the ‘roof’ shelter brings but they need the other aspects of shelter even more:
- Comfort and the ability to relax
- Freedom to learn how to make their own decisions and learn how to be themselves
The process of really understanding these areas takes time but that is what shelter is all about. At Starfish we have mentors living with the girls and councilors on staff to work with them through these struggles.
To support this process you can do 2 things: