Made by Survivors | Going Back


Going Back

07 Aug 2011, by elance programmer in Made By Survivors Programs

Going Back –

I have been back and forth, up and down, inside and out, about taking a second trip to Kolkata, India with Made By Survivors (MBS) this upcoming January.  When I left Kolkata in February 2010, I vowed to come back every year.  It seemed like a possible and practical goal.  After all, I had done it once, I could do it again – with ease – from here on out.

And then six months passed.  The belt on our household budget pulled tighter, I sank a bit deeper into the quicksand of raising five growing children, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my husband considered a career change.  Life took over.  There was no space for me to travel across the world.  Sitting in a shelter, holding hands with some of the most lovable humans on the planet seemed like wishful thinking.  I marched onward through my days.

I continued my dedication to the cause on a smaller scale.  I spoke to classrooms full of children and sold Made By Survivor products in churches and craft fairs.  My musician husband continues to work and raise funds and awareness for Made By Survivors through album sales (check it out here –  I was inspired to start a leadership and empowerment  program for adolescent girls here on Cape Cod.  I need to desperately maintain a connection to girls and women of the world.  I needed to keep my hands dirty in the service of humanity.  However humble it seemed in comparison.

At night, in the quiet, I secretly wondered if I would ever see their faces again.  And by the time I did, would the girls I once knew be women?  It seemed like there would never be a good time to raise the money it would cost and leave my family for several weeks.  I started to question my memory.  Was it really the experience I remembered?  I would dwell on the endless flight when I watched day turn to night and night to day from my narrow airplane seat.  I remembered the vigilance it took to avoid fresh produce and purchase sealed bottled water in bulk for fear of being without.  The heat, the bugs, the smell, the grime took center stage as I justified my need to stay home.  In my world, I was barely keeping afloat as is.  I rested on the idea that once was enough.

I tried to let it go.  On more than one occasion I tried to make a firm decision.  Maybe when all of my kids were in school full time.  Maybe when we have a padded savings.  Maybe as a celebration at another point in time.  But I just could not move on.

Recently, I sat on the beach watching my daughters swim.  I looked up from my chair and saw Sarah Symons, CEO & Founder of Made By Survivors and Florida resident, standing on a Cape Cod beach before me.  We were moved by the chance of it all.  Curious why we were brought together at this moment, we decided to spend some time.  We laid in the water, on the sand, in the shade, for several impromptu hours as midday turned to evening.  I spilled all of my fears and concerns and limitations on taking a second trip.  She understood and offered suggestions and assistance.  We spoke openly about the demands of life and motherhood.  She told me that the girls in India had asked for me last winter.  They asked when I would be back.  At once, my heart ached and expanded. 

She told me to come again – to make a way.  Reuniting is an important, spirit igniting and healing part of the process for everyone involved.  I was flooded with memories of the joy I felt doing this work.  The way my heart cracked open to the purest form of love.  When language and culture and circumstances cannot be barriers.  Where the world is seen new again – what’s true, what matters – eyes and heart wide open.

It is heavy and beautiful, this love.  That I ever questioned needing it, rattles me at my core.  I surrender to not knowing exactly how it will play out.  The details are still shaky in my attempt at this journey.  But today, it seems impossible that anything will stop me.  Today, I am certain. Relief and thrill seep out of me.  With courage and care, I listen to what calls and follow.  

  • Anonymous

    Stunning writing. Thanks for sharing it with all of us, Janell. I have been “putting off” this trip myself for several years and you have inspired me. Thank you for your commitment to making the world a better place!! – Kathleen McGowan

  • Anonymous

    I hope you make it happen. You inspire me to make it happen in my own life. Thanks. Jnmccool