Arts

Globe-Trotting photographer works to end modern-day slavery

by Michele D.  Maniscalco
Contributor
Thursday Nov 15, 2012
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Hosts South End fundraiser

A bright, passionate redhead named Kerry Hook from Rowley, Massachusetts traveled around the world after college, emerging as photographer Kiki Larouge. Along the way, she found a mission: to help young girls escape the tragic fate of being sold into prostitution. Larouge puts her money where her mouth is again with her upcoming fundraiser on November 29 to benefit Maiti Nepal, a program that provides shelter, counseling, education, health care and vocational training for girls and women rescued from forced prostitution. The Maiti Nepal Handicraft Sale and Fundraiser will take place on Thursday, November 29 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at 450 Harrison Avenue, Studio 203. The benefit will feature refreshments from Blunch, the sale of hand-beaded crafts and personal accessories made by Maiti Nepal residents; a talk and question and answer session with Larouge about the organization; and a raffle offering attractive getaways and gift items provided by local businesses. The benefit is co-hosted by handbag designer Saya Cullinan, jewelry designer Amy Casher of Amy Casher Designs and Blunch’s Nikki Christo.

Since its founding in 1993 by a group of individuals led by educator-activist Anuradha Koirala, Maiti Nepal has helped well over 12,000 girls make new lives for themselves and seek healing from the trauma of being forced into the sex trade. Koirala credits her family and Mother Teresa with inspiring her dedication to service. In 2011, Koirala was honored by CNN as one of its Everyday Heroes, with Demi Moore giving an emotional introduction at the televised ceremony. Larouge learned of the program on her first trip to Nepal in 2004, and eventually spent three months working side-by-side with Koirala at Maiti Nepal. In 2009, while planning a fundraiser for Maiti Nepal at the 62 Restaurant in Salem, Larouge learned that Koirala was coming to the US, and arranged to have her attend the benefit. Larouge established her own non-profit organization called TABOOT (Take a Bite Out of Trafficking), to raise awareness and support for the fight against human trafficking of young girls, and she goes to schools and colleges to talk about the issue and her efforts. "I sell the handicrafts because I find it a really great way to raise awareness. To be able to help Anuradha in her fight is the least I can do," Larouge said in a telephone interview. In addition to public events such as the November 29 benefit, Larouge does Maiti Nepal handicraft parties in private homes upon request. Anyone interested in arranging such a party can contact her through her website, www.kikilarouge.com.

Commenting on her participation in the Maiti Nepal fundraiser, Saya’s Saya Cullinan said, "After attending an event where Anuradha Koirala spoke about the trafficking in Nepal, I was really touched and impressed by the work they do there with these girls. Kiki’s dedication to this cause is also tireless and inspiring and I am happy to help her in these efforts. She is a force to behold!" Co-host Amy Casher said in an e-mail, "I’m delighted to be helping such an important cause by hosting the fundraiser in our studio and donating a percentage of my jewelry sales that evening to TABOOT. Human trafficking is such an atrocity that I don’t see how one cannot want to help raise awareness and money to aid the organizations that fight it most effectively."

The raffle will offer an array of entertainment and personal-pampering opportunities, such as VIP tickets to a taping of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in New York; a $100 gift certificate to Aquitaine Boston; two in-home yoga sessions with Rob Halpin Yoga; a $150 gift certificate to Bradley & Deigel salon on Newbury Street; a Night at the Renaissance Waterfront Boston, including breakfast for two; and a one-hour massage at Etant at 524 Tremont Street.

Driven by wanderlust, Larouge seems impatient with her current lack of travel plans, which she attributes to the practical concerns of home ownership. "I am back in Rowley. I’m really sad about being here over the winter; I wanted to be in Nepal. My house was on the market and now I’ve taken it off. I have a hard time with the time change, cold weather and it getting dark so early now," she said. Eventually, she dreams of dividing her time among New England, the Pacific Northwest and Nicaragua to take advantage of the best work opportunities and seasonal conditions year-round. "I just had six clients out in Seattle and I have a great base out there. I am not meant to be in New England during the winter. I don’t like the cold weather at all," Larouge lamented. Her dream is to spend the warm-weather months in the Boston area, and the fall and winter in Seattle, where she has begun building a following, and in Nicaragua, where she has a hut on the beach. Amid all of her world travels, an ongoing goal is to continue raising consciousness of the human trafficking problem and raising support for Maiti Nepal.

For more information on the fundraiser, follow and share it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/458235080885326. To learn more about Maiti Nepal’s work with exploited girls, see www.maitinepal.org.

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