Years of Progress in Just One Week04 Feb 2008, by Uncategorized in
February 2nd, 2008
Today I came back to Kolkata after week in South India, and walking into the Destiny flat was completely different. Sewing machines roared, material covered the floor, a pile of finished products had found its home in the corner, and two girls sat, gingerly talking as they embroidered headbands. As soon as they saw me, motion stopped as they jumped up to give me a hug.
After settling down to some chai, I inquired about the progress of their work. In just seven days, they have nearly completed their first order of TEN‘s products and have also taken an order with a local sari shop! Just sitting and talking with the women, I could sense an immense change in their attitude. Whereas a few of them were shy and timid before I left, now they are smiling, making a valiant effort to understand my accented English, and seeming to thoroughly enjoy their new situation. They are much more confident in every aspect, from leaving the house for the market, to asking me about my life in America. I asked if they miss the shelter home, and they said that while they miss their friends, they love their new flat and will work every day to stay here.
Upon reflection, I’ve realized one important difference between the Destiny girls and the girls at the shelter home. Whereas those at the shelter home are to be treated as rehabilitating survivors, with caution in our personal interactions, the Destiny women are more like business partners, and even friends. While embroidering, we’ve talked about our families, our future dreams, boys, favorite movies – things normal teenagers would talk about. Our language barrier only makes these conversations more hilarious, as I usually end up saying something like, "On Sundays, I eat the church." But this flat is anything but a gossip hall, the girls are extremely disciplined and motivated to study and work. They’ve even asked me to teach English, basic business, and computer skills to them when they aren’t too busy with work orders.
One day, Chan and I imagine that these girls will be handling their own business, and employing more survivors through their orders. In fact, they’ve already started by giving some work to their fellow trainees at the shelter home. The future is indeed looking bright for these women and for all those who will be influenced by their work.