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I am now committed

29 Jan 2011, by elance programmer in Human Trafficking Survivors

We have spend the past two days at the first of two shelter homes we will be visiting. Today we return there again, and then one more visit next Friday, where apparently a film crew will be filming Made By Survivors for a piece on trafficking. They will be following us around on our last three days here, from the sounds of it. 

I cannot imagine doing this visit and meeting the girls and then returning home to the comfort of our life in the Western hemisphere, never to come back. I am now committed. The girls have soared into our hearts, and we into theirs. They radiate such love and beauty, they take my breath away. They are not victims, they are survivors. Spending time with them, one must occasionally remind oneself of the reason they are at the shelter home. Their joy and purpose is evident. Each one has something that they work on, be it sewing, block printing, or some other craft.

These are the older girls, 16 or so, to 20 or older. The younger ones go to school (those that have sponsors). They show us their bedrooms with great pride some of which have murals which Made By Survivors volunteers have painted with them, on past visits. There are posters of babies, and animals and flowers which they like very much.

On our first day they danced for us. They pull our hands in every direction to be with them. One of the young women brought me to the sewing room where she proudly stiched a piece of cloth. She has become one of those to steal my heart. She is twenty. I cannot imagine her story, do not know it, perhaps do not want to know it. If I know, I might treat her differently?

The founder of this organization does not want the girls to be the object of pity. Here they change their life and to learn skills that will empower them for the rest of their lives. 

There are a few of the young women who sit out and watch, but do not participate in some of the group activities. Some of these girls may have been brought to the shelter more recently, and the light in their eyes is not as bright. They are perhaps more actively processing the trauma that brought them here. They all are, and there is a counselor that comes to the shelters a few days a week and is available to them, and to all the girls.

I spent some time talking to her, and we had a nice exchange of ideas about Indian culture vs. Western culture, how we care of our elderly, how we treat our parents and in-laws, etc. I also had some nice time with some of the girls and one of their “aunties”, a beautiful woman who is one of their house mothers. Each of the house mothers lives with them full time, and is given two days off per month. 

So for the third day in a row we will drive an hour and a half through the most teeming, crazy, insane maze of humanity which is the streets of Kolkata, to reach this oasis where the heart may be healed. I can see what and why and how Mother Teresa did her work. One must ignore all of the external appearances, the pain the suffering, the chaos and just reach in and touch the heart. It is there, where love lives, and where healing occurs. It is so simple, so profound, and yet our nature always gets us ensnarled in all the minutiae.

I will be extremely sad to say goodbye to the girls on our last day with them. My commitment is twofold: one is to return next January and to continue the relationship. My second intention is to find out which girls there are not in school because of a lack of sponsorship. When I know how many, I am pledging to raise the money to have the girls sponsored. If anyone feels like they are able to take on a monthly donation to sponsor one of the girls and their education, let me know. These young women are no longer on paper. I have seen their faces and looked into their eyes and I am going to do something to help.

1 COMMENT
  • Anonymous Reply

    Hi Laura,

    My name is Shari Councell, and I’ve recently discovered Made By Survivors. I am deeply moved by all the effort being taken to stop human trafficking. I am new to getting involved, but very much looking forward to spending several months in India this year, working with survivors in shelters, either by teaching data management, basic computer, or some other skill, or assistance. I am looking forward to reading more of your blogs, so that I can learn about the environment, and what I should be preparted to expect. Keep up the great work!

    Thanks,
    Shari
    Palm Bay, Florida
    scouncell@live.com

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