helping rebuild devastated lives

#bellydanceforjoy

Domestic abuse, rape, sexual abuse, slavery, trafficking – these dreadful traumas have a devastating effect on a woman’s sense of self, on her confidence, her self esteem and her body image. Now Company of Dreams is bringing joy to shattered lives through the surprising art of bellydance.

This unique and inspiring programme of classes, held in refuges, safe houses and support groups is bringing joy and happiness to women who have suffered so much, and helping them regain confidence & self esteem.

The reality for the women we teach

Most of the women we teach have lived in real terror for their lives, having escaped from slavery, violent partners and abusers. Living in secret safe houses in the UK, they are isolated, far from home and are now trying to rebuild their lives. Those escaping from domestic violence have had to leave behind friends, family and work, and are dealing with the long term effects of the abuse they’ve suffered. Self esteem, body image, self confidence, self belief are all shattered. Most have internalised the verbal abuse they have lived with for years and have come to believe they are ugly or worthless.

The reality for women escaping from slavery is particularly horrifying. Many were sold into slavery as children and have never known freedom, never had a day off work, never slept on a bed, never had a friend. Their lives have consisted of constant work, regular beatings and no knowledge of the simple pleasures we all take for granted – of a night out with friends, or a walk alone in the park.

The extent of modern day slavery in the UK is only now coming to light and the shocking discovery is that there are tens of thousands of people living in slavery in Britain right now.

How can bellydance help?

Bellydance has a unique ability to help women feel better about themselves and their bodies. The movements feel sensual and womanly and there’s enormous joy gained from dancing in a group to pleasurable music. Taught in a safe space, amongst other women like themselves, our classes are helping women accept their bodies, develop confidence and rebuild self esteem through positive feedback. Dancing also takes their minds away from their terrible memories, and enables them to laugh and have fun together.

Bellydance is empowering for women who have had their power taken from them and has great benefits for their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Over time, improved self confidence and self esteem will hopefully help the women build their lives and start to put their terrible experiences behind them.

And the results?

All our teachers talk of the happiness and laughter as the women gather for their dance class, and the excitement as they see the coin hipscarves we bring for them. And although it’s very early days, we are already hearing inspiring anecdotes from our classes: some women have told us that their bellydance class is the only thing that keeps them going through the week; others have said they are noticing a renewed ability to concentrate during the week. Dance has proven benefits for mental health and memory and it is so gratifying to hear of such clear and positive results after such a short time.

Over time, we hope to continue to extend our work beyond our current projects, to help as many women as we can. Lack of funding is of course, the one thing that holds us back. Please consider giving a donation to our work through our Global Giving page. Every penny goes towards helping our work continue.

Please support us with a donation, however small, to enable our work to continue

With grateful thanks to Croydon Council Community Fund and several Croydon councillors for their financial support

Bellydancers climb Mount Snowdon for us!

London bellydancers Saffron and Sophia climbed Mount Snowdon and raised over £1,000 for our work! At the top of the mountain they bellydanced for joy with our flag – click on the image to see the proof!