Resilience06 Jan 2009, by Uncategorized in
It’s Tuesday night in Kolkata. About 7:30 pm Don’t know when I’ll be able to send this. There’s no internet connection at the hotel (except for the front desk which is incompatible with my email). Both computers at Destiny crapped out as well. Destiny has a wireless connection…but we can’t get it to work with the Mac. So much for “it just works”…in the US , maybe. The only internet cafe near the hotel is closed down. It’s very frustrating: I’ve had a great video of our incredible Saturday outing with the children, complete with a voice over by Sarah ready to go since yesterday with no way to upload it.
We had an incredible day today at Sanlaap. We took a taxi to and from the compound, which gave us a chance for a most enjoyable amble through the local rural village. Saw several monkeys, some feral puppies that were just born, and much rural local color.
We spent the day at the safe-home compound engaged in two primary activities: First, we worked on painting and restoring a large multi-purpose room. Most of the he girls were in in high spirits, having pretty much adjusted to the TEN team’s presence during yesterday’s visit, and pitched in on all phases of the painting with great enthusiasm. After several hours of wielding cleaning rags, paint brushes, and rollers, we switched gears to arts and crafts. Specifically, using a bevy of supplies provided by our two volunteers from The Body Shop, we led the girls in creating individual flags, celebrating each girl’s singular value and uniqueness. All of these girls are human trafficking victims who were sold or coerced into sexual slavery at a young age and later rescued. Given the hell they have been through, their resilience is astounding. With the exception of a group of very recently rescued Nepali girls who are still in the initial adjustment stages (“You cannot believe how they tortured us.”), the girls were cheerful, energized, and quite interactive with the volunteers. Even the Nepali girls participated, although with a quiet reserve and very little interaction with the non-Nepalese girls and the volunteers (In addition to the expected post-rescue adjustment difficulties, all of the other rescued girls and the Saanlap staff speak Hindi and/or Bengali, not Nepalese, so the girls feel totally isolated from their potential mentors and peers. We’ve recently located and retained a translator. It should help).
Two of the girls, Jane (16 yrs) and Sandy (15 yrs) (names changed) particularly impressed me. Both girls are incredibly intelligent, and are making impressive strides in mastering english. We didn’t have an english-Hindi translator available today, but both girls stepped in and did a great job as interpreters. The painting and crafts would have been total chaos without their help. Jane, who spent the painting breaks pouring over one of the volunteer’s english-bengali phrase book (yes, of course, our volunteer subsequently gave her the book), told me she wants to be a human rights lawyer so she can fight against trafficking (she did not know I was a lawyer at the time). I sure hope she makes it.– She’s more than smart enough …and if her english continues to improve at the present rate, she’ll soon speak the mother tongue better than most Americans.. And the world will be a better place. The kid just needs a chance. Hope we can find a way to give it to her. Rose (name changed), who has spent 7 yrs at the Saanlap safe home (try not to think about the implications), is a born leader, aware of everyone and everything going on around here and quite ready to take charge of a situation. Like Juhi, her english is impressive. I didn’t get a chance to ask her about her life plans. But I’m guessing she has some. Again, I hope we can help make it happen.
After we finished painting, two of the girls insisted on carefully cleaning all traces of paint from my hands. They also insisted on preparing and serving lunch (a great tasting curry & rice dish) to the volunteers. We left for the day amid cheerful waves and cries of “goodby” and “tata”.
I passed on the opportunity to spend the evening on Park Street wth the rest of the gang and decided to write instead. I’m suffering from a bit of “Amy Syndrome”, and Park Street was more than I could deal with tonight (a few of you will get this…for the rest, it’s not a physical illness so don’t worry about it.).
That’s about it. Time to hit the road and see if I can find someplace to send this.
Best to all. See you soon.