Reinforcing beauty through film

Feb. 22, 2012
Kelsey Gulliver

Beauty Creates Beauty was born, with creativity at its heart.

It all began last March at a coffee shop when JBU graduate Henry Trejo and Adam Harbottle ran into each other. As they began to talk the duo realized their mutual desire to educate the people of Northwest Arkansas on the issue of human trafficking. After that conversation “things just kind of happened,” Trejo described.

After the details began to fall into place and two other JBU graduates, Kyle McCarthy and Phil Roberts, joined the group and Beauty Creates Beauty was born.

This month, four John Brown University graduates embark on a journey that takes them throughout South East Asia—including Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

The team is working with area non-profits and also, as their website states, filming their experiences to, “help inform people of the issue of sex slavery in Southeast Asia in hopes to help end sex trafficking and restore beauty in Southeast Asia.”

Short term, they are providing promotional media help to the non-profits they are working with, and art supplies for local kids. Long term, they want to continue to support and enable the non-profits that are reaching out to children through music, art, and dance.

As Trejo put it, they want the kids, for example, to “be wedding photographers instead of prostitutes.”

Since they arrived in Poi Pet, Cambodia a few weeks ago, the team has grown to be very flexible, very fast. “It’s just been overwhelming and complex; everything we thought we’d see is not happening,” said Trejo. But he is also assured that, “We’re just where God wants us to be.”

While they had originally planned to produce a full-length documentary, the team is now leaning towards releasing several separate shorts. The first one is available on the web at beautycreatesbeauty.com.

The video, which is around two and a half minutes long, shows the team taking instant pictures of kids at a Cambodian school. It was something they had planned to do, but something that turned out better than they could have expected.

For many of the kids, it was the first photo of themselves they had ever possessed- a single shot with the word “beautiful” written on the bottom edge.

The team has learned that in a country where they can’t say anything other than “hello,” actions speak louder than words, and that it takes a long time for people to feel love.

And during fun, spontaneous moments like when Trejo had an impromptu drum-off with a little girl on the side of the street, they have also learned the value of simply being available and being a friend.

“The small things make a huge difference in places like these,” he explained.

According to their website, sex-trafficking is a $32 billion business each year, affecting some 600,000-800,000 people who are forced across international borders.

Trejo described the countries and their people as fragile. “Everyone puts on the façade of being beautiful, even when it’s uncomfortable,” he said. “Letting them know that they are beautiful naturally, that’s been one of the most beautiful things.”

So far he calls his experience both a beautiful and humbling one.

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