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The Trip is Over but the Journey ContinuesDate: 12/5/2012

I have been back in the States for a week now. My mind is still processing the trip and all I experienced on it. I am conflicted and uplifted, sad and happy. Overall, this trip was the hardest thing I have ever done. It taxed me mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. My personal belief is that I can not grow without a challenge, and by that measure, I have grown a lot through this trip. Now, what am I going to do with that? As I look back over the course of the month and the 150 girls I had the pleasure of meeting, I am validated in the vision that has guided me and the efforts of Green Tara Project to date. Feedback from staff at the organizations was overwhelmingly positive for the result the training was having. I heard many comments about how the young women and girls who had been trained, even after just one session, experienced an increase in energy and self confidence. I'll never forget showing up to my second class with Save Our Sisters and being told that the ladies were practicing the techniques in the bus all the way home…and would I mind telling them not use the techniques on each other. LOL! I remember being 5 minutes late to Shishu Bharti, and Lalita Ji telling me the girls had been panicked that I wasn't coming. I got one of the highest compliments from Lalita when she told me that she had never seen the girls happier than during and after my classes - high praise when the girls get lessons in music and dancing. These and other comments will keep me going. I have learned a lot about what worked in the sessions and what didn't. For instance, in regards to the cognitive skill building part, the concepts can be too complex to communicate through demonstration. I was lucky to have some translation available to me for some of the classes, but I need to make this a priority for next time as these skills are greatly needed. Shishu Bharti, Project Crayons, and Save Our Sisters all have asked for ongoing self defense programs, and this is what I turn my attention to now. I am working on concepts that involve my return to India, as well as the development of online support for these and future organizations. I thank all of my readers for being a part of my journey here, for your words of encouragement and your financial and morale support. YOU have made my efforts and the results possible. 1 Comments Where The Girls Come From May 7th, 2012 at 4:44 pm (Uncategorized) For those of you who may be curious to know what kind of circumstances could possibly lead to a girl being sold by her family, or abducted and trafficked without recourse, here are a few I witnessed in Mumbai: Mother and daughter living in a traffic median (Mumbai, 2012). Makeshift sidewalk housing (Mumbai, 2012). Makeshift housing (Mumbai, 2012). With pictures like these, it is, unfortunately, not difficult to imagine the life of people who have come to live in these conditions. So let's try. I invite you, for a few moments, to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine yourself a young woman of perhaps 17 years of age, married for three years to a man who has come to Mumbai from a rural area to make a better living for his family. Disease overtakes your husband and he dies, leaving you with a small child, no education, no money, no family. You might also only speak a language from your rural tribal area, and so are further isolated linguistically, unable to communicate with many of the people who surround you. You pick through garbage heaps for food or anything to sell. Needing a place to live, you seek an unoccupied space in your area - no small feat when the sidewalks are already crowded with families already in similar circumstances. What's left besides the sidewalk? A traffic median, or open ground under the stairs at the train station, perhaps. It is barely imaginable, and incredibly uncomfortable to even think about. But then, miraculously, come these islands of girls at Project Crayons and Save Our Sisters and Kranti, girls whose circumstances, with the incredible help and dedication of Mrs. Josephs, and Robin Chaurasiyas, and other program managers and house mothers, are being interrupted and re-made. And I have hope that things can change, and indeed are changing. Food for thought.

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