Volunteer Team – First Week21 Jan 2008, by Uncategorized in
December 29, 2007
The day after I returned from Delhi, a team of ten volunteers associated with The Emancipation Network arrived in Kolkata. I was so excited to see Sarah, the founder of TEN, and met them at the airport. We first went to their hotel to check in and freshen up, then directly to the Apne Aap Kidderpore center for orientation. The staff provided an overview of the organization, how it works in various cities, and then specifically about the centers here in Kolkata.
The team started immediately with a fun game of charades to get acquainted with the children. Then we conducted a comparative legal rights discussion with the women and adolescents. Sarah talked about the women’s rights movement in America, and stressed that even though our country is wealthier and more developed, we still have high rates of domestic violence and sexual violence against women. This was truly important for the women to hear, since they had a preconceived notion that women in the US were treated as complete equals and faced no obstacles. It was also important to give the women a chance to speak and share their stories. One woman was extremely brave, and explained how she desperately wants to leave prostitution, but isn’t able to because she has no job, no place to sleep, and her pimp knows where her daughter lives and uses this as blackmail. It was certainly an intense first day for the volunteer team, but there’s really no way to sugar coat sex trafficking.
The next day, Saturday, Calcutta Mercies was hosting “Christmas in Calcutta,” a large event that featured performances from their school children, nursing staff, and volunteer team. They invited several of the children from Apne Aap to attend, and so we toted them all to this lovely event. The best performance was from the children of the blind school. Although the music wasn’t exactly outstanding, the children sang with their whole heart and spirit.
The following week was a blunder of coordinating schedules, finding paints, leading various workshops, and having an amazing time with the children. The volunteers were still getting acquainted with this chaotic city, but as soon as they stepped in the door of the center, I could see their anxieties vanquish.