Saturday, 27 October 2012

This girl.

For those of you who have not been able to meet this lovely friend of mine, I am sad for you because she truly is an incredible, God-filled woman!
Anya (lasagne) has been spending time here in India working in a few different businesses and locations, and lucky for us, during her time in Kolkata she has been flatting in our apartment! Yay!
Sadly we must farewell her on a journey back to Ukraine tomorrow, and I just hate that there is a chance she might not make it back here before I begin my own journey home!

But what happens will happen and it is my prayer I will see her again within the next 3 months, because look at that face, how could I not wish for that?

Anya, you are such an amazing friend and character to have around, and it is going to feel very strange without abundant volumes of tok-doi passing through this house-hold, and quiet without your contagious laugh. You bring such a presence into the room, and have a light about you that will cheer up even the saddest soul! I am so blessed to know you, and you feel like a friend I've known for years; you inspire me and encourage me to continue following my passions, remaining committed in my faith, and to live with such a compassionate, loving, and selfless heart.

And to this day, lasagne will never be the same!
All the blessings to you on the next stage of your journey, beautiful,


Monday, 22 October 2012

Durga Puja.

Tonight we took the time to explore a bit of the festivities that are taking place throughout the city during this time of Durga Puja - this is a festival that celebrates the Hindu Goddess 'Durga', who is depicted in numerous 'pandals' (temporary structures, often themed i.e. Mayan) with numerous arms (up to eighteen) holding various weapons, riding a lion or tiger, and slaying demons. Her name means 'invincible'.

The pandals are elaborate, and typically the larger, and grander structures are said to gain greater blessings in the Hindu religion.
To see such adornment, such large steps to worship a higher-being, and such a public display of their belief, really makes me think about the way I worship Jesus, and challenges me in the image I create through this.

We went out with a few friends from Freeset, who happen to be locals, so they knew their way around and through the alley-ways, and short-cuts (so many people! So many bustling crowds, noises, smells...), and we had a good time enjoying a new insight into a culture we live alongside.

The crowds were jovial, the people were curious (our pale skin attracts enough attention without wrapping it in a saree), and all in all it was an experience I will remember for a long time. Our friends were welcoming and warm, and we were all smiles, laughter, and community - and we topped all this off with a crazy ferris-wheel ride, that spun insanely fast (I honestly believed that I wouldn't stay in my seat).

Enjoy the chaos + colour.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

11 years of freedom.

Mid-September, Freeset celebrated its eleventh birthday, which is truly an amazing thing - for 11 years, this business has been working for the freedom of women who have been trafficked, exploited, and sold into the sex trade.
11 years of community.
11 years of providing women with a choice.
11 years of returning dignity to those who have been abused.
11 years of working towards breaking the cycle of the roles passing from grandmother, to mother, to daughter.
11 years of a reason to smile.

Daily I remind myself just how lucky I am, that I have been given this opportunity to work alongside the most incredible people, both the women Freeset hires, and the close-knit group of international staff.
To be around a group of people who have been called from the corners of the earth by God, who have sacrificed years of their time, money, and skills, is really quite inspirational.
Not only am I blessed to be here, but when I have lived in an environment that is an assault to the senses, I really begin to be thankful for the privileges I have back home in New Zealand... I could list the differences in the quality of life back home in comparison to here, but each is on a completely separate scale. It is easier to just acknowledge these differences, and understand that the society of the life we all live today is the way it is, and there is no immediate 'fix'... which is why we are working towards freedom, for a greater quality and equality of life, and for His love to enter the homes of the oppressed and voiceless.
This is why Freeset is still 11 years young, and will continue to fight for the freedom of the women our hearts have been captured by.

Here are some photos of the celebrations that took place at Freeset - colours, sarees, music, dancing, and plenty of food! Initially the music + dancing side of things wasn't going to happen as we felt that it might be too soon after Shanti's sudden death (two weeks), but in the end it was decided that the women needed something to enjoy and be happy about - a chance to celebrate their freedom.