Empowering survivors of sex trafficking with handcrafted jewellery
SCROLL DOWN TO READ AN INTERVIEW WITH JORELLI FROM TAYO COLLECTIVE!
Tayo is a Tagalog word meaning “to help stand”, “to build”, and is also the pronoun for “we.” This word captures the essence behind TAYO: to help survivors of sex trafficking stand by building them up, together as a community.
Every Tayo piece is handcrafted and designed in the Philippines by the women of Wipe Every Tear, a non-profit dedicated to empowering women trapped in the sex trade in Southeast Asia. These women have stepped out of slavery and into a life of freedom. They have chosen to leave the bars where they were once trafficked, manipulated, sold, and exploited. Accepting the invitation from Wipe Every Tear, to come live, eat, and go to college all for FREE! Through TAYO the women are empowered to earn money as they go to school. They proudly pay the women a living wage so that they can care for their families as they prepare for their future.
Each piece of jewelry carries a message of hope. From darkness to light. From slavery to freedom. The same hands that once were held in bondage are now alive and creating new things.
We interviewed Jorelli from Tayo Collective to learn more about what it's about & how they work with their artisans.
1. How & why did you start Tayo Collective?
We started Tayo as a business idea to help women transition from being rescued by Wipe Every Tear Philippines from their employment in the bars to being students under WIPE Every Tear's scholarship program. We thought about a livelihood program that will help them make beautiful things with their gifted hands, and that can slowly aid them financially. Many of them have families to feed back home. They have children that need to go to school. Though some of the children can live with them in the safe shelters, they need extra income to provide for their other needs for the family. We envisioned to work together to equip, empower, and engage each of the women in our care
Our Filipina livelihood coordinator for Wipe Every Tear and some women missionaries to the Philippines worked together to conceptualize Tayo Collective in 2016. They started designing the jewelry pieces and made prototypes with some of the artisans and eventually created a collection that we eventually sold on our newly launched website.
The heartbeat of Tayo Collective are the rescued women from trafficking in the Philippines.
2. How important are ethical practises to you?
Our desire is to help bring dignity and restoration to every rescued woman we have as Tayo artisan. It is our primary focus- her complete transformation, freedom from trauma from abuse and fear.
We have to make sure we create an environment where every rescued woman would experience being respected and cared for and feel that she is highly valued.
Another ethical practice we strive to pursue is sustainability and making mindful choices in our supplies and packaging.
3. Could you tell me a little bit about your team of artisans?
Tayo Collective and our livelihood center have artisans who are all rescued women from trafficking and the sex trade industry in the Philippines. At Wipe Every Tear they are given safe shelters, access to education until college and support for their needs and their children's needs.
We employ them while they go to school, they are free to stay with our Livelihood program after graduating, although our graduates also choose to pursue jobs outside our organization.
Our women artisans are all in a process of restoration- from abuse and trauma, from poverty and the experiences that go along with it. We integrate livelihood training together with the other holistic programs of W.E.T so that they learn skills that can be used after they graduate. We encourage them to dream for their future, dream for their own businesses, dream about their future careers.
4. When did you realise that Tayo Collective was making an impact on the lives of your artisans?
We have always believed in the abilities of the rescued women. We have always believed that they can make beautiful things with their hands and that they are creative. This is key in making them believe in themselves as well. We deal with women that have very low self-esteem and confidence. We want to create with them to encourage them to dream again. We believe that this is the beginning of making an impact in their lives.
We have pursued the project until today, believing that one day we can affect the lives of more women that come to us.
We have not achieved our big business goals yet but we believe that the small efforts we do for the organization create a positive effect in the lives of the women we encounter. We also receive reports of women who are still in the bars that are interested to join us in the future, because of testimonies like this, we desire to continue to become better and bigger so that we can help give more women a way out of slavery and poverty.
5. What's your favourite part about running Tayo Collective?
For me personally, it's the creating of a platform to raise awareness about women and the effects of poverty on women in my country.
Women have the freedom to choose in my country, but poverty takes that away from them.
My favorite part is when we release testimonies of victory- when a girl is rescued and when she finishes school. Education is very important for Filipinos.
I love seeing the trails of poverty being broken because of being able to acquire a degree.
Aside from that, I love the creative side of the business. I'm a creative as well, so I love exploring new ideas and being creative with our artisans.
Thank you Pag-asa Collective for the opportunity once again, your partnership makes us alive and our women encouraged.