Empowering women

Amanda van Dort on Emerge’s newest partner in helping raise funds for their ‘entrepreneurship hubs’

When Amanda van Dort and Stephanie Siriwardhana met through a mutual friend, they realised they had a shared passion for social issues. It should prove to be an interesting collaboration: Amanda is the young Country Director of the Emerge Lanka Foundation and Stephanie needs no introductions -having represented Sri Lanka at the Miss Universe pageant in 2011.

File photo shows Stephanie Siriwardhana (right) visiting a children’s home during the Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe pageant last year

“Stephanie gracefully offered her help to organize a fundraising event for Emerge, and I took her to visit one of our shelters - the girls were ecstatic to meet Ms. Sri Lanka,” said Amanda.

The Foundation supports young girls between the ages of 10-18 year, who have had to leave their homes due to past abuse or the threat of abuse and are courageously testifying in court, explains Amanda.

Typically, these girls would find themselves in shelters with little access to educational or professional opportunities.

Emerge partners with these shelters to transform them into “entrepreneurship hubs,” where girls are taught to be self-sufficient. They’re exposed to a comprehensive curriculum that emphasizes leadership, life skills, and business knowledge, while simultaneously generating a financial foundation for each program participant through the creation of unique jewellery.

Jewellery created through the programme is sold through avenues that raise awareness about the cause, with profits going back to the individual artists who created the pieces. Emerge’s work is very much in keeping with Stephanie’s own philosophy.

Through her Stephanie Siriwardhana Foundation, Stephanie hopes to help women and children in need. Amanda says they’re looking forward to continuing their partnership as Stephanie’s Foundations puts down its own roots. For their first event, the two are planning to party hard for the cause.

“Emerge is dedicated to empowering young women who have survived abuse to rediscover and celebrate their personal beauty, develop their self-sufficiency, and become leaders within their own communities,” says Amanda adding that their event, dubbed ‘Run the World’ will celebrate women by featuring an eclectic mix DJ’s and performers. All proceeds from ticket sales will go toward ‘Women in Need’.

‘Run the World’ will be held on March 28, at the Silk Nightclub from 9pm onwards. Tickets priced at Rs.1000/- are available at Barefoot and Odel.

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