When Elliot Costello visited an orphanage in Cambodia in 2013, his life changed in a way he never thought possible.
What he didn’t know, however, was that a meeting would take place which would also change the lives of thousands of others…
It all started in 2013 when Elliot Costello, a social entrepreneur from Australia, met a little girl named Thea.
Thea was a 10-year-old girl who sadly had ended up in an orphanage after being rescued from a terrible situation. She had suffered two years of physical and sexual abuse, and the violence against her had left a deep mark. Unfortunately, we would never have heard of this brave little girl without Elliot.
But let’s take it from the beginning…After her birth, Thea’s life was good. The Cambodian girl grew up like any other child, cared for and loved by her mother and father and mom. Tragically, though, fate had other plans for her. One day her father suddenly passed away, and his death was devastating in more ways than one. In addition to being a traumatic, emotional event, Thea’s father had been his family’s sole breadwinner. When he passed away, the family was left in a financial crisis.
Things got so bad that Thea’s mother could no longer care for her daughter, and she made the difficult decision to send Thea instead to an orphanage. Unfortunately, the little girl’s life there would become a living hell.
According to Polished Man, Thea was physically and sexually assaulted daily for two years by the orphanage’s director.
Ultimately, Thea was transferred to another orphanage in Phnom Penh, ran by Hagar International. During a visit there, Australian social entrepreneur Elliot Costello bonded with the child over games of naughts and crosses. The 10-year-old girl spread joy and positivity despite everything she had been through.
Thea always had nail polish on her little nails, and one day, she asked if she could paint Elliot’s. They sat and talked and had a lovely time together.
”As she painted one of my nails, I assured her I would always keep it that way to remember her, and by extension, her suffering,” Elliot said.The meeting with Thea motivated Elliot to try and make positive changes among men so that fewer children fall victim to sexual abuse. He also had the idea to start a movement where men paint their nails to show their support.
Painting one nail also has a symbolic meaning – one nail represents the one in five children who will be victims of sexual violence. Upon examining the statistics, it quickly becomes evident that we need to work tirelessly to address this issue.
According to YMCA, Nearly 70 percent of all reported sexual assaults involve children aged 17 and under. Alarmingly, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
Since men are responsible for around 90 percent of this type of violence against children, and it’s Elliot’s belief that men must be the catalyst for change. To this end, many world celebrities around the world have taken part in the trend of painting a nail.
The organization Polished Man is today continuing its work towards making a better, safer world for kids. Their main aim is to prevent sexual violence against children. According to the organization, ”Being a Polished Man means challenging violent behavior and language, both locally and globally.”
One celebrity who has made a firm stand is Chris Hemsworth, who posed for the organization with a painted nail.
”Being a @PolishedMan isn’t just about remembering to buy flowers, how many rounds you shout, or how much you lift. It’s about saying no to violence against children,” Hemsworth explained.Zac Efron and famous surfer Kelly Slater also joined in the social media challenge, and hopefully more people will publicly take a stand to combat violence against children.
The campaign started modestly a few years ago, but by 2014 it had captured the attentions of many major media outlets.The organization has continued its hard work, and today has been around for ten years. According to Polished Man, $8.7 million has been collected to support trauma prevention and recovery programs for women and children at risk of, or who have suffered, violence in Australia and around the world.
Well done Elliot! We aspire to see the increased participation of men, and the involvement of more major celebrities, as it pertains to embracing this movement!