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Housewarming Party

05.08.2008 in Uncategorized

August 2, 2008

After two weeks of hard work, we decided it was time to celebrate the opening of Destiny Productions with the people who really make the center run - the working women! So we closed early and everyone came to my house for a party. I included the entire Income Generation group from Topsia’s center as well, since we hope more of them will come to Destiny Productions in the future.

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Leaving the Red Light District

05.08.2008 in Uncategorized

July 30, 2008

Yesterday I received a phone call from the girls at Kidderpore’s night creche. They begged me to come visit, explaining that it was the last week for some of the older teenage girls. Confused, I went for a visit the next day, and as soon as I walked down the red light district’s alley, my "daughter" came running out to hug me. A few minutes later, some of the teenagers came and literally started crying as soon as they saw me. Apparently, the NGO staff have made arrangements for six girls to move into the Loreto College home at Sealdah.

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Snakes bring good luck?

25.07.2008 in Uncategorized

July 25, 2008 

Entering the center yesterday morning, I noticed a long brown tail slithering under the front door. Hmm… A fairly large snake was curled up in the corner, greeting me with its soft hisses. Although it was a harmless garden snake, I knew catching it without being bitten might be difficult. Luckily, we have a broom, so I was able to guide it out the other door. The first group of women arrived just as it was sneaking out, and they were quite “rattled” by its presence. Later, I learned that having a snake in your house is auspicious, so I suppose this is was lucky day!

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Destiny Productions Opens

25.07.2008 in Uncategorized

July 21, 2008

Today was one of those days that restores my faith in humanity. Destiny Productions is officially open! We have rented out the Thomas Clayton Center and moved in our sewing machines, fabric, and most importantly, fans!  

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“Day after tomorrow”

14.07.2008 in Uncategorized

Arriving in Kathmandu was like a breath of fresh air, literally. The pollution here is bad, but not nearly as bad as in Kolkata this time of year. And the production center, where I’ll be living the next two weeks, is on the outskirts of the city in a lovely purple house. There’s a gorgeous terrace on the top floor, which on a clear day provides a scenic view of Kathmandu Valley.

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It must have been Destiny…

26.06.2008 in Uncategorized

Today is the happiest day of my life because… We have finally found and signed the deed for our new Destiny production center. The three-story house, the Thomas Clayton Center, will serve as our new office, production unit, and potentially a crisis shelter for women in need. This new center was made possible from the generous donations of my grandmother and her son, Kevin, in memory of my late grandfather, Thomas Clayton. While their contribution has allowed us to secure the property, we still need help to meet our start-up costs. If you are able, donations are accepted online or you can contact Alicia for more information.  

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Inside her house

23.06.2008 in Uncategorized

June 19, 2008 

Several months ago, before I left for the US, the group of women from Topsia’s community center formed a Self Help Group. This band of ten young women, called Ekta "unity," produces our Om Line of products, including embroidered handbags and tank tops. The treasurer of this group, Nasreen, invited me to her cousin’s home yesterday and I was thrilled to accept the offer. Since she lives in a predominantly Muslim area, I made sure to wear my most modest salwarkamee suit.

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Destiny Updates

23.06.2008 in Uncategorized

June 14, 2008 

Destiny, the joint project of Sanlaap and TEN to reintegrate survivors, has undergone some serious changes since I’ve been back. Three of the young women in this program were originally from Bangladesh, and recently their restoration orders have been issued. So, they will be going back to their homes within the month. While we are all personally sad about this, we know it is for the best that they go home and be restored to their communities. Actually, as soon as we have the time and money, my dream is to operate a similar economic livelihood option in Bangladesh for the restored women.

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Readjusting to Kolkata

23.06.2008 in Uncategorized

June 11, 2008

After 6 weeks in the US, I finally flew back to my true home, Kolkata. Somehow the flight coming back was much longer than I have ever remembered it. Perhaps that was because my mind was racing in a thousand directions, trying to decide what were my "top priority" tasks to accomplish in the first few days. Since I’ve been gone, it’s been hard to know how all the programs are going, how the children are doing in school, how our product orders are coming, and if any new women have joined the shelters. Luckily, because of jetlag I was able to accomplish more than I should have in 3 days.

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Darjeeling has so much more than Tea…

12.04.2008 in Uncategorized

April 10, 2008 

 

As a huge tea drinker, I couldn’t miss the opporunity to visit Darjeeling during tea plucking season. While there, I visited a fair trade - organic tea estate called Makai Bari, which means "House/Land of Corn."  During the tour, I ended up meeting the owner, Rajah Banerjee, who showed me how to properly taste and make tea. Rajah is quite an eccentric character who pioneered organically grown tea and fair trade practices on the tea estates. 

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