We will manufacture a unique Traveling Heart Hospital Bag to give away as a free resource for rape crisis centers. In the US, someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. After an assault, a woman must go through a hospital procedure or “rape kit” in order to help prosecute her attacker. This is a battery of tests and information collecting that is necessary but invasive. Sometimes she cannot shower, use the restroom, comb her hair, or change her clothes for up to four hours. At the end of her procedure, a woman is given a plastic 'hospital bag' containing clothing to return home in; but hospital bags are not always available. Often women who are in trauma, will go home in a paper hospital gown.Traveling Heart Bags are unique, hand sewn and initiate healing through beauty, connection and warmth. Bags contain a change of clothing, new underwear, toiletries, legal information as well as a personal and compassionate message of hope through a Traveling Postcard that is placed in every bag. The bags are hand sewn in Tennessee by a collective of women who are currently living in the US as legal political refugees. Our project will provide a much needed source of income to a population that rarely finds work due to language and cultural barriers. In addition, as part of the Traveling Heart Hospital Bag project, a Traveling Postcards facilitator workshop and training manual will be created and implemented for domestic violence and sexual assault counselors in the US. We want every survivor who receives a bag to return to her local sexual assault center for ongoing support and to have the opportunity to make her own Traveling Postcard. By sharing her resiliency and courage on her card, she will help another woman take back her voice, and ultimately, a pipeline of women sharing wisdom and compassion is created. We do not want our bags to be seen as a stigma of assault, instead our bags will be available in stores everywhere to purchase as a symbol of solidarity and hope.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (February 2014)