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Warrior Divas – Fighting Slavery with Martial Arts

25.05.2010 in Uncategorized

There are so many ways that people can use their unique gifts and experiences to fight slavery!  I am continually inspired by the creativity and diverse approaches that volunteers are bringing to this cause. One of the latest and coolest efforts – Warrior Divas: The Emancipation Network Project -  is dedicated to helping survivors of human trafficking through martial arts.

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MadeBySurvivors in REDBOOK Magazine

24.05.2010 in Uncategorized

Made By Survivors was featured this summer in REDBOOK redbook magazine cover juneMagazine, and founder Sarah Symons was honored as a REDBOOK hero.  Sarah's message to readers:  "Our survivors possess deep inner beauty and courage, far greater than the damage and evil that has been done to them.  They are the true heroes of our organization, and I thank you for caring enough to want to help them.  The quickest way you can help is to buy a survivor-made product, and spread the word every time you wear it.  You can also make a donation to help support our many programs"

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New Meaning for “Stay in Touch”

06.05.2010 in Uncategorized

Often times we come across survivors who are taking training in shelter homes but want to come out and work. But because of legal issues, or psychological issues, they are not able to leave. So they stay in the home, and we always encourage them to work hard and learn the skill well so that they can get a well-paying job when they leave.

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Language Lessons from Survivors

28.04.2010 in Uncategorized

First, let me preface this with the fact that I’ve never taken a Bengali class, I cannot read or write in Bengali, and the grammar/vocabulary I know of the language comes from women and children in red light districts. So I most certainly do not claim to know proper Bengali. Most of the time I end up saying things like "I to the market went tomorrow vegetables buying." But whatever, I make myself understood.

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In a Kolkata State of Mind

18.04.2010 in Uncategorized

After 4 days in Kolkata, I am already keeping time to a different tune. Kolkata’s music is almost deafening, like speed, heavy metal; incessant honking as all vehicles from cars to rickshaws to bicycles have horns, Hindu temple bells, the security guard who announces his presence to all potential thugs at 2 a.m. Throw out everything you learned in Driver’s Education here because there are no lanes, driver’s don’t use indicators and there are few roads with lanes and pedestrians never have the right of way.

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Emergency Housing for Survivors

15.04.2010 in Uncategorized

In the last six months, Smarita and I have both accommodated several survivors at our homes. This was due to lack of any other opportunities – there are no emergency shelter homes in Kolkata for victims of abuse. Women would show up at our office, having been beaten nearly to death, saying that they need a place to stay. The first time this happened, Smarita allowed the young woman to stay in her home. The next week, another woman came, having been beaten and kicked out of the house by her brother.

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The World is Yours To Change

11.04.2010 in Uncategorized

This week I was invited to speak at a local private school about modern day slavery. They have been studying Indian philosophy and religion in their Humanities program for seventh graders. The teacher, so very wise and open minded, thought that I should do a presentation on my trip, discussing the social issues I had encountered while volunteering with The Emancipation Network. Considering India and Africa host most of the world’s 27 million slaves, I thought this to be a wonderful opportunity.

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Survivors taking new responsibilities at Destiny

11.04.2010 in Uncategorized

 This week has been an absolute roller coaster at the Destiny center. Over the last few weeks, it’s come to our attention that several of the women are consistently late to work. And I don’t mean 5-10 minutes late, I mean a good 45 minutes late. And many of them bunk work without informing us. So over the weekend, Smarita and I decided to enforce a small fine for anyone who arrives more than 15 minutes late to work. We thought this would be a good way to motivate the women to come on time, and use the money to buy sweets for everyone at the end of the month. 

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In a Kolkata State of Mind

10.04.2010 in Uncategorized

After 4 days in Kolkata I am already keeping time to a different tune. Kolkata’s music is almost deafening; like speed heavy metal; incessant honking as all vehicles from cars to rickshaws to bicycles have horns, Hindu temple bells, the security guard who announces his presence to all potential thugs at 2 a.m. with a yell akin to a battle cry. Throw out everything you learned in Driver’s Education here because there are no lanes, driver’s don’t use indicators and there are few roads with lanes and pedestrians never have the right of way.

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Perspective

07.04.2010 in Uncategorized

I thought that when I returned from India, I would complain less, roll my eyes less, and generally realize how lucky I am. The last week was not a good example of that goal. When I received a rejection letter from UVa, I cried and slept for two hours.

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