A delicious way to fight VAW
Sometimes, all it takes is a locked door. In a video on the work done by Cameleon, an NGO that provides shelter, education and legal support to girls and young women who are survivors of violence, we come to know the story of two sisters in Iloilo who returned to their grandmother’s house as part of their rehabilitation.
Survivors of incestuous rape, the girls had only one request: a door they could lock so they could sleep peacefully at night. “Now we feel safe,” says one of the sisters. The door doesn’t look like much: It’s made of sawali or woven mats, but it stands between them and the world of sexual violence to which they had been brutally introduced.
“Every 53 minutes a girl is raped,” says Laurence Ligier, founder of Cameleon Association. Initially a volunteer worker from France, she has been a resident of the Philippines for more than 20 years, working among the poor. She has found a home in Iloilo, immersed in what seems like a lifelong mission to rescue abused children and “inspire them to go beyond their limits so they can reach their dreams and have better lives.”
From the first girls she rescued from an abusive home, Laurence has founded a network of communal homes where girls are given shelter and care, including psychological counseling, an education, skills training, and moral support should they decide to pursue charges against their abusers. In some cases, as with the two sisters mentioned previously, survivors are supported in their decision to return to their families. “Many of the girls are now mothers or professionals,” relates Laurence, declaring how “the children transformed me,” much like a chameleon, such that the association’s tagline now is: “Changing colors, changing lives.”
So far, Cameleon has helped some 6,000 girls move forward from being victims to survivors, from helplessness to self-determination.
In this, Cameleon has had to rely on donors mainly from Europe, who sponsor a child or help the association with its expenses. Laurence, too, has been awarded several times by the French government and other entities for her work.
But, says Rita Dy, president of the Zonta Club of Makati Ayala, it’s time that more Filipinos got involved in the work that Cameleon does. As part of the “16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women and Children,” an annual global effort led by the United Nations and Zonta International from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, the Zonta Club of Makati Ayala is launching its own brand of “activism of gastronomic proportions.”
During these 16 days, patrons of participating restaurants and hotels are urged to order special “orange” drinks or dishes, with part of the proceeds from the sales going to Cameleon. Orange is the color adopted by the campaign, “symbolic of the brighter future we all face with a world devoid of gender-based violence.”
Restaurateurs and chefs at the launching ceremony last Tuesday attested to Dy’s powers of persuasion. Dy herself, a high-powered public relations professional, demurred and said the effort to get the establishments on board was quite easy, managing to convince the owners “with just a phone call, an e-mail or even a text message.” And, she added, “it wasn’t just women who said yes.” Other Zonta Clubs in the country (around 50 of them) will have similar activities during the 16 days, but certainly, as Chef Jessie Sincioco put it, the campaign is a “delicious way to take a stand against violence against women.”
For the record and so readers will know where to go when eating out during the 16 days of the campaign, here are the participating hotels and restaurants:
Diamond Hotel (which also hosted the launch), Conrad Hotel, Discovery Primea, Fairmont Makati, Radisson Blu Cebu, Raffles Makati, Park Inn Clark and Davao, Pico Sands Hotel Nasugbu, and Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay.
Apartment 1B, Azuthai, Bamba Bistro, Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, Fireside Grill and Bar, Kettle, Makati Garden Club, Milky Way Café, Mozu Café Bar, Sonya’s Garden Tagaytay, Tender Bobs, Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie, and Wildflour Café and Bakery.
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