Changing Lives through Coloring Books
By Arushi Choudhury, 9th April 2021
I remembered thinking at the beginning of quarantine, March 2020, about how much free time we have. We can develop new hobbies, study for exams, and so much more. However, when I was talking to my friend about our privilege, we realized this isn't the same situation for everyone. Here in the United States, we have access to technology to call friends if we are in trouble and safe, trustful households.
Me and my friend Melisa Shafiee started researching and learning more about the abusive conditions victims of gender based violence were stuck in, as it is harder for people to reach out for support when everything is closed during the pandemic. We wanted to focus on gender based violence in minority countries because as POC ourselves, we felt it was our duty to amplify the voices of other women like us who have been silenced for too long.
We were shocked when the statistics of Asian women facing violence were released. Between 21% and 55% of Asian women in the U.S. report experiencing intimate physical and/or sexual violence during their lifetime, according to Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, or API GBV. We wanted to focus on women because we felt it was the right time to spread awareness, now that more people are starting to be aware of shocking sexual and physical abuse statistics. So by early August, we created an online charity to raise money and donate all the proceeds to that organization.
And why not tackle two birds with one stone! We knew from experience that children were bored at home, so we created a coloring book called “Color for Empowerment : South Asia”, which includes pictures and information about the different countries that API GBV ends gender based violence in. This way, children can be educated and have fun coloring these books while knowing all the proceeds go to a trusted organization.
Each book is $7 USD and is available at our website. Our website also features short and fun blogs regarding timely social issues, such as Black History Month and International Women's Month. This summer, we hope to do more projects that address other prevalent issues as well. From our organization, we hope to change Asian lives by raising enough money to get them out of a toxic household, and we hope to change children and teenagers' lives by entertaining them or writing blog posts to gain more knowledge on other prevalent issues.
We have been working on this project through Zoom and FaceTime. So far ,we’ve donated around $100 USD to API GBV, and our time management, organization and teamwork skills were enhanced as well. We never thought two high school students could make such an impactful change to people's lives, but our hard work certainly did pay off.