Ode to India

Well, it is finished! Two months in India… I’m sitting in the international airport awaiting my departure to South Africa – eating Chicken Tandoori Roti and drinking a diet coke (some things will never change).

Our last day in Kolkata we visited the red light area with IJM. The reality of it hit me much stronger than in Bombay – the girls were already ready and working. Walking down a narrow street, young girls lined the side, like junior high girls at a dance, as men perused them, chatting with some, eyeing others. The first in the row looked as though they could be 11 or 12 – IJM confirmed this. I found myself smiling weakly, not really knowing how to accurately portray that I didn’t want to be a spectator – that I wanted to fight with them, love them, know them – be on their side. We wove our way through the narrow alleys passing rows upon rows of girls. Making eye contact brought smiles to the girls faces – many reached out to grab my hand as I walked past. We stumbled across a litter of puppies amongst the condoms on the ground – the irony.

I was exposed to a lot in India – and would say that my mission has been accomplished. I came to gain exposure and hear stories – more than anything I wanted this all to become a reality, to see what these issues looked like globally, and to come home with a better understanding and a bigger heart for working with women and children who have been sexually exploited. From meeting with girls and hearing their stories, talking with NGO coordinators about preventative, rescue, and rehabilitation plans, and walking through red light areas – my understanding is broader and my passion to continue fighting this at home has only increased.

I’m looking forward to Africa because I know it will be a very different learning experience. With the state that Zimbabwe is in, the people have become very vulnerable. Every day people are escaping, or trying to escape, to bordering countries – South Africa being the primary one. Currently, South Africa is attempting to legalize prostitution for the 2010 World Cup. Therefore, South Africa has the key ingredients and all the red flags of a country in which human trafficking could potentially dramatically increase within the next couple of years. What is being done to prevent this?

Continuing to learn…