I loved working with the girls of My Refuge House. It was fun to see all of the different personalities and backgrounds under one roof. Most of them had been abused and/or sold by people they trusted. While taking their photos, it was important to me to make them feel special. I didn’t want to just “take” something from them, as so many before have. I wanted them to enjoy the experience and know how beautiful they are.
I honestly felt very bad that I had to crop their faces out of the photographs. It seemed like an injustice. I wish I could show the world more of what they look like. I felt like I was insulting them by not doing so. However, several times while I was there, the girls would ask the staff at MRH if I was getting their faces. Once I realized that they didn’t want their faces out there, I felt much better about it.
The girls love arts and crafts and singing and dancing. Several people had donated art supplies that my friend Jenny so graciously brought over (150 lbs worth!). Even though the girls were 13-18 and most of them closer to 18, they were very childlike and I was told that this is part of the Filipino culture. Needless to say, the girls loved their construction paper and other supplies. I think they would have drawn for hours upon hours.
I asked each girl to write a word that described themselves and one word that described My Refuge House. Here are some of the results:
One girl drew this picture and said, “When I’m unhappy, I draw.”