by Kerry Mertlick, Global Seva India Posted on February 28th, 2013
As I sit on the bus ride home and listen to Michael Franti sing, “Is your love enough, or can you love some more?” I am reminded of my intention this morning. . . “to BE love.”
It is challenging for me to be love when my mind focuses on the violence that these girls have been exposed to. I feel anger towards the men that have violated them, anger towards the governments that do not intervene to end this and anger towards myself for not doing more.
We started our day at Kolkata Sanved, a center that teaches Dance Movement Therapy for girls who have been rescued from sex slavery. Their focus is on physical and mental wellbeing, healing, positive transformation, personal empowerment and connection of mind and body.
The girls in training to be dance trainers showed us a few of their techniques, which included verbal expression and free dance movement. Afterwards they had us sit in a circle and talk about how the dance movement made us feel. Some people felt calm, others triggered, some felt their anger rise up but then felt soothed through their movement. I believe in this therapy and was honored to be a part of it. It allows the girls the opportunity to express themselves, be in charge of their bodies and take control of their future.
We ended the day with a second trip to one of the red light districts here in Kolkata. This place is dark, grim, dirty. . . I saw no sky and felt as if the buildings were crushing the air out of my lungs, as if ‘something’ was trying to strangle my spirit. It’s all so confusing, and I wonder are all the men there for sex? Have they all lost respect for life?
I feel as if the men look at our group of ten white western women as a threat of change. What about the older grandmother-aged women who looked all put together and with such a friendly smile? What was she doing there? Is she aware of what is going on in the brothels? Is she a part of it?
We arrive at a drop-in center for children of all ages. Most mothers of the children here are prostitutes. The children come here after school, while their mothers are at the brothels. The children welcome us as any group of three to six year old children would, with curiosity and big smiles.
One of the Dance Movement therapists starts her session with the children. I am immediately impressed with how well behaved the children are and how well they respond to the dance instruction. Each one is cuter than the next. Their laughing, enthusiasm and focus makes my heart sing and reassures my thoughts that this program is making a difference in these children’s lives. My intention to BE love is alive again.
When we leave and walk through the streets, the horror of it all invades my being again. My anger has passed and now all I want is for someone to hold me and tell me it’s all going to be okay. It’s not all going to be okay, but I get to leave, go back to my hotel room, take a hot shower and have dinner. Some of these girls could be raped 20 more times before I go to bed tonight. My heart starts to break.
People talk about human injustice throughout history and are shocked & disgusted that no one back then did anything to stop it. Right now millions of girls around the world are trafficked and sold into sex slavery every day. I get angry again thinking what is society doing to stop this?
I am grateful I have this opportunity to a part of Off the Mat and to be a part of the change that I want to see in the world, to be a part of the change that we need in this world. I am love, again, I have hope.
Kerry Mertlick is from New York, NY. She successfully raised more than $20,000 for the 2012 Global Seva Challenge by mobilizing her community and rising up as a leader for a cause she believes in. Funds raised will help support organizations in India that are providing refuge, rehabilitation and economic opportunities to sex trafficking victims, and empower survivors to lead lives with dignity and respect.
*The opinions expressed in this blog belong to the individual author and are not necessarily shared by Off the Mat, Into the World.
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