My Trip To India. The Shock Of Reality

One of the girls sewing at the Women's Interlink Foundation in Kolkata, India
One of the girls sewing at the Women’s Interlink Foundation in Kolkata, India

I wake up almost every night, thinking about going to India.   During these months before the trip, I’m slowly getting done the things I need to in order to make it happen.  Yesterday I deposited $51 more dollars into my trip fund from Susie and Sandy.   I hear a dollar can do a lot in India.

I’ve been reading books about India and sex trafficking. Half the Sky by   Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn is filled with the realities of the successes and limitations of what can be done to help women and girls around the world to become independent and safe.  I started to read one novel then put it down.    I felt as if I knew the story already.  I didn’t have the heart to read it again.

Then I saw a picture of one of the girls  sewing at the Women’s Interlink Foundation,  (maybe one of the girls I’ll be teaching to make potholders in February) on Dahn Gandell’s facebook page.

I loved the photo of her sewing with the paintings on the wall behind her (if you’re wondering about the swastika it’s an ancient symbol found in many different cultures and  in Sanskrit means “all is well” ) it seems  such a healthy, safe and happy environment and the girl looks so  intent on her work.

I wanted to write about her, I wanted to know her name.

And when Dahn wrote me back and said they don’t give out the girls name for safety reasons, it hit me.  Somehow, even though I  know that his young woman was a victim of abuse, of sex trafficking, somehow I kept her image separate in my mind from the stories I had read.

I guess it was just too hard for me to imagine.  That the horrors I read about actually happened to this girl, sitting at her sewing machine, looking  to me like she’s in a Home Ec class.

It’s a big leap for my mind to make.  A leap I think my mind would rather not have to make.   The abstract suddenly became real.

I have a feeling this is going to happen to me again and again.  This shock of reality.  And when I actually do get to Kolkata, it will continue to happen, until I know it so well, until I embody it.  Maybe that can really only come  through the actual experience of being there and meeting and working with  girls and other people involved.

I’ve thought a lot about the practical parts of this trip, but now as much about the emotional.  I suppose the reading I’m doing is a part of that, since the stories fill me with emotion.  But  I don’t think I can really prepare for the emotional part of the journey.  It’s like trying to prepare for death.     How can I prepare for something  emotionally when I don’t  know what I’ll be experiencing and  feeling.

What I do know is that I’m certain that this trip and teaching  is something I want to do.  And I’m really eager to  discover all the different aspects of it.  To learn what I can and help when and how I can.

You can read more about the Women’s Interlink Foundation here.   You can also see a quick video about  the  Key to Freedom program which created a platform to help sell the items the women make here.

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