Made by Survivors | Moment in Time


Moment in Time

14 May 2011, by elance programmer in Made By Survivors Programs

There are times when you can really begin to see a difference in the people you are working with or trying to help. A moment when it becomes clear that you are getting through to them and that your effort just might be paying off. I experienced one of those moments last year with the girls in the Made By Survivors / Women’s Interlink Foundation Jewelry program at Child Care Home and it has stuck with me ever since. 

I had returned to Kolkata from a 2 month trip back home to the states and on my first day back at the jewelry center the girls threw me a surprise welcome back party. The girls went all out in their planning and had arranged for decorations, gifts, cakes, cookies and a music and dance routine. It was a day filled with fun, laughter, joy and smiles and it’s a memory I will cherish and think about often for the rest of my life. It was also the day I realized just how important and monumental the task ahead of me was. 

At the end of the day we were all sitting around chatting about what had been going on the past 2 months and how my trip was. During the conversation one of the girls said that she was very happy I came back. She said she had been worried she would never see me again because no one had ever come back before. I was the first person to come back to them. For some reason this hit me like a ton of bricks. I became somewhat emotional and it took everything in me to keep my composure. It was in that moment that I realized this was the real deal. That I was in this for long haul, not just for a few months or a few years. It was the first time I understood that these girls would always be a part of my life, no matter where I went or what I did. This was now personal. They had accepted me into their family and I am now, essentially, their brother.  They were counting on me to help them improve their life and make a better future for themselves and it was up to me to make sure that’s exactly what happened. 

In the past year the girls in the Made By Survivors program have grown leaps and bounds, both professionally and personally, and it’s been a pleasure and an honor to be able to witness it first hand. Girls like Priyanka that were once shy and withdrawn are now full of smiles and hugs. Girls, such as Dolon, that found it difficult to see any value in themselves are now starting to see the limitless potential that life can offer. And girls, like Nafeeza, that couldn’t imagine a life outside the 4 walls of a shelter home are now imagining a life with no boundaries at all. The girls speak English better then they did a year ago, They have a better understanding of business and how to manage people. And perhaps most importantly, the balance of their bank accounts has grown significantly, helping to pave a way to independence! 

As we begin the 2nd year of Made By Survivors jewelry program we see the girls blossoming into young entrepreneurs! Our next step is to give them an even better understanding of how to run their own business which will bring them one step closer to complete financial independence! 

Thank you to everyone that has supported us and we hope you continue to spread the word about what these amazing girls are doing! 


  • Anonymous

    It’s true, many people come to India for a short time to help. Unfortunately the way to help isn’t usually a “quick fix”, it’s not that the people we are working with just need a small bump up to get them over the poverty line. It’s thanks to you Paul, and people like you, who come and live in a difficult place like Kolkata. Most people need self-esteem and confidence building, which can take years.

    Keep up your good work!

  • Anonymous

    Paul, beautifully written. The way you love and care for the girls is such an inspiration to me. And I know you know how meaningful and important it is for them to have caring, nurturing male figures in their lives. You are amazing, my friend.