Last night at church we were singing these lyrics:
"We are in freedom,
We are in hope"
It really lay the burden on my chest of the women in the red-light district of Sonagachi in Kolkata; why do I get to walk in freedom and in hope, while so many suffer, are trapped and have little freedom, if any at all? The burning desire in me is to see some of these women come to realise there is hope out there, that they can walk in freedom away from such a terrible industry.
It is easy to disregard our freedom, and forget just how well-off we are here in New Zealand.
I feel like my freedom and hope is selfish, which is why I need to help these women, and share this priviledge with them; to see just one woman's life turned around by the freedom Freeset offers is what will make my trip to India worthwhile.
In other related news, I had a very awkward encounter on my bus to work on Saturday with an older Indian man originally from New Delhi. After he initiated the conversation, I mentioned what I am going to be doing in India. He basically shut me down, and believed that there would never be a significant difference that we could make there - that was until I told him how many women had already been freed. He began talking about a disease he picked up from Sonagachi, and something about condoms and how they never use them through there... and went on about the strip-bar 'Showgirls' in Auckland, and of his lap-dances he had received (and a few other things I wish not to say!)
He then went on to say that I had very nice teeth and 'sexy' lips...
Then sang to me.
And briefly rubbed my shoulder (he was sitting behind me).
Then asked me if I would like to go out for a coffee (which I politely declined).
And then I briskly left the bus as soon as I could.
(Just so you know, I am in no way 'haunted' or 'traumatised' by this, even though I guess it could be seen as sexual harassment - I knew that I couldn't be harmed while on a half-full bus with many people listening in - I am just a little unnerved).
What I have learnt from this experience is:
- not to smile too much at some men in India in case they get the wrong impression
- to say I am married
- that there will be many people who will be skeptical of what myself and Freeset are hoping to achieve, and that I just need to keep believing in what I am helping out with
- that some Indian's can often be quite open and not ashamed to speak about things that Westerners might find personal etc. I had already learnt this from information I have been reading about the culture - things like finance, family etc, are things not seen to be too personal to talk about.
(Please know that these are very much rough generalisations, and by no means do these things apply to all Indian's - it is only what I have so far experienced and learnt about - of course it is going to be a completely different story while I am there).
I don't want to go to India expecting that every man (or woman) is going to act quite intensely towards me, because it will not be the case with every person I meet - but because I have pale skin and reddish hair, I will be the sore thumb sticking out in some crowds, and I have to realise there will be situations where it might get intense, but I know I will always be with someone else so we can stick together.
In other other news, I have received a kindly donation from a Mr. Williams in Tauranga (I wont disclose his full name in case he wishes to not be known publicly) after an article went into the Weekend Sun about my volunteering trip. I am so grateful for that.
And finally, here is a photo of a few of us on a trip to Takapuna Beach to soak up some Vitamin D:
|Lyd, Suzi, myself and Mel traveling through the new tunnel here in Auckland - on our way to bask in the sun at Takapuna beach wooooo!!|
I would love to hear any comments or opinions regarding topics discussed, as I know this is very one-sided, and a tiny bit negative.
I still cannot wait to get to India and learn about the culture first-hand, and then be able to form some reliable opinions etc. I know that while there will be a few set backs here and there, the overall experience of it all will far surpass these.