With only two weeks left in India it’s hard to believe that we’ve experienced all we have in the last six. It’s been a whirlwind – of research, networking, tourism, friendships and traveling. I’ll try to pick up where I left off!
Our time in Bangalore with OASIS was wonderful – we met Prakash and his family, Majella, and got to see the future work that will be taking place to support victims of trafficking. We realized quickly, though, that we had learned what we needed and were ready to start networking with other NGO’s. We ended up choosing Freedom Firm (freedom.firm.in) located in a small hill station in the south of India – Ooty.
Freedom Firm works in areas affected by prostitution, doing investigations and conducting raids. Their goal is to work in cities and villages where little work is being done on this issue – making them somewhat mobile in their traveling. The area we visited is where their rehabilitation home is located.
A re-occuring question during our time with Greg and Mala was asking “what makes girls return to prostitution?” Is it because Indian woman are raised without learning how to be independent? Girls that have come out of prostitution most often are HIV positive, meaning that their families will not take them back and their chances of getting married are very slim. Given these circumstances, there really is no choice BUT to equip these young women to become independent. But how do you do that? How do you find that balance between keeping them safe and away from the world that has tricked them and harmed them, while allowing them to experience the world and mature into a place where they have coping mechanisms, street smarts, and survival skills?
Asking these questions made me realize how much parenting is involved in the rehabilitation of a child of the sex trade… loving them but trusting that God will care for them; protecting them but allowing them to make their own decisions; equipping them as best you can and then sending them into the world to make their own choices, praying that they will choose good.
Our last day with Freedom Firm was spent in the aftercare home – and has definitely been one of the highlights of my trip thus far. We spent the morning cooking with the House Mom, Maria – she taught us to make Beef Curry and a delicious spinach dish. We shared the meal with the two women that currently live in the house, hearing their stories and asking them questions about the red lights they had worked in, how they had been trafficked, etc. It was a humbling moment to see these girls share their hearts and years of pain, while smiling in acknowledgment of the healing that had been brought into their lives and their excitement to start using their stories, their experiences, to help girls in similar situations.
After an overnight bus back to Bangalore (I thought I was going to die as a bus toppled up and down the mountains of a road that may as well have been the road to Hana only on a mountain instead of flat ground) we spent the day visiting and saying goodbye to our new good friends Salmon and Abbas – two young men which can really only be described as God sends. Not only did they introduce us to places we never would have found on our own in Bangalore, but they spoiled us rotten with their selflessness and love.
We arrived in Delhi last night, and are here until Friday acting as tourists. Then, Kolkata!
Some fun highlights:
– Getting stuck in Mysore because the road was unsafe due to Elephants, and being put up in a beautiful hotel.
– Going on my first motorcycle ride through Bangalore (and getting soaked!)
– Learning to make chai and curry by guesstimating measurements and snapping photos (the new version of a cookbook)
– Drinking a glass of Cakebread wine under the stars with wonderful friends (a little taste of home)
– Finding out that I have to take de-worming pills and calling Nicky to figure how the heck to use them since the doctor didn’t speak english (she thought i was crazy)
I’m still asking questions, still learning how to love, and still enjoying the adventure… all is well. 🙂