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A Different World

01.02.2010 in Uncategorized

Today we visited 10 of our school sponsored kids who have been placed in Ram Krishna Mission Boarding School.  It was absolutely amazing! The kids looked so good, so happy and healthy and clean, that I almost did not recognize them.  These girls, aged 6-13,  were all born into the Kidderpore red light community of Calcutta.   Their mothers were
trafficked as young girls into brothels, and are still working the streets, kept captive now by a complete lack of other options, and by the extreme stigma hanging like a cloud over the whole district.

 When the children lived at home, they shared a tiny room in the brothel with their mothers – it was a dangerous situation in the extreme, as there is always the risk that a client would tire of the mother and reach for her young daughter instead.  Our partner agency Apne Aap, which runs a prevention program in Kidderpore, eventually took these 10 girls into the night shelter because they were at especially high risk or had already been exploited.  The Emancipation Network began paying for their schooling three years ago and this past spring, they were enrolled in the Boarding School.

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“Obey the Rules of Traffic”

31.01.2010 in Uncategorized

That’s what this large barrier in the middle of a 4-lane road running out of Kolkata airport said.  It wouldn’t be very noteworthy in most places but it is here where an outsider visiting for the first time wonders if there are any rules at all!  Cars, trucks, motorcycles, auto rickshaws and bikes all jockey for position, honking incessantly and flashing each other as they approach too closely, all in what seems like a chaotic though rhythmic dance extenuated by loud horns and large black puffs of diesel exhaust. 

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Finally!

31.01.2010 in Uncategorized

Hi everyone!

My journey started in Boston, then stoppped in New York. From JFK, we flew 14 hours to Delhi, a flight  on which I got a total of 1 hour sleep. yay. At the airport in Delhi, we had about a two and a half hour wait. The lines are slow moving in any place in India, but staff and other travelers were curious and friedly. We were all so thirsty and bought hug bottles of water (we will be drinking only bottled water while we are here). I went through a Duty Free store which sells designer perfume at about a 20% discount.

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Arrived in Kolkata!

31.01.2010 in Uncategorized

After a long trip we have finally made it to Kolkata!  It in unlike anywhere I have ever been before, there is so much going on everywhere you look.   The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was insane.  I have never experienced anything quite like it.  We were swerving all over the roads at high speeds while cutting off cars by inches and blaring on the horn.  I was pretty certain we were gonna hit something or someone at anytime.  Did I mention there are no seat belts???  It was a nail biter but 

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Something from Nothing

29.01.2010 in Uncategorized

I’m writing this from the plane, en route to Calcutta, India, to participate in our annual volunteer trip, and to launch a whole new program which will train and eventually employ survivors as silversmiths, a highly respected and marketable trade.   We already sell a range of survivor-made jewelry on our website, but up to now, we’ve bought all the components, and the survivors have designed and assembled them into the finished pieces.  We’ve never before trained survivors to pound, bend, blowtorch, drill, rivet, melt and cast the metal into any shape and de

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I’ve been here before…

29.01.2010 in Uncategorized

Not to India that is, but rather wide awake in the very early hours of the morning finishing up last minute necessities prior to a trip half a world away.   Everything has come together quite well for the trip, except of course my failure to heed Paul’s advice to get a good night’s rest before embarking on a 24+ hour journey…  

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Next Stop, Kolkata!

28.01.2010 in Uncategorized

Tomorrow I leave for Kolkata, India, but have waited until the last moment to try my hand at blogging. I think this is partially because although I have bought many travel sized toiletries, packed my suitcase, and put up my "Out of Office" message on my email account, I still have yet to acknowledge to myself that I am really leaving in the morning for a completely new journey. I am not sure what to expect so I am leaving with an open mind and plans to be extremely flexible!

 

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Bernadette’s Blog, Kolkata 2010

25.01.2010 in Uncategorized

About five years ago I read the book Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis. I remember being both deeply shocked and moved by Mendes story. I was intrigued…. modern day slavery??? I needed to learn more so I kept reading books on the subject. A couple I recommend are Sold by Zana Mushen and Andrew Crofts, and Not for Sale by David Batstone. Once I realized how prevalent modern day slavery was I decided to try and become more involved. I started by attending a human trafficking forum in Boston where I first met Sarah.

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Third Times a Charm…

25.01.2010 in Uncategorized

 In a few days I’m headed back to India and I find myself bursting at the seams with that anxious anticipation that always precedes something exciting and challenging. Getting there and getting re acclimated to the rhythm of Kolkata is going to be tough but I’m ready for it. I’ll probably be eating those words in the near future when the city inevitably starts to wear me down but for now I’m psyched, re energized and ready to take the city on. 

 

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Bring – It – On

16.01.2010 in Uncategorized

With less than two weeks until my flight leaves JFK International and arrives in Kolkata, India, I find myself with a familiar feeling in the final stages of preparation. It’s as if anxiety, thrill, and tentativeness all collide inside me. Holding on to the moments of the “me” before – the familiar daily rhythms, the ease of routine, the casualness of the everyday. All while knowing I am ripe for an experience and evolution that has lived in my heart for months. The books are read, the movies watched, the conversations spoken, questions asked, errands checked off.

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