by Carly Weis, Global Seva India Posted on March 2nd, 2013
On Monday we traveled to the Nijoloy shelter home run by the Women’s Interlink Foundation and the experience has been front of mind for me ever since. The girls who live in this particular shelter home are either orphans, victims of sex trafficking who have been rescued, or have been voluntarily signed over by their mothers who work in prostitution themselves and are hopeful of giving their daughters a better life.
When our group of 10 (our larger group was split in half that day) walked in, we were immediately surrounded by a group of smiling, excited, and chatty girls who were looking forward to a day of play with us. I was instantly greeted by two girls—one grabbed my right hand and the other grabbed my left. They each put a braided yarn bracelet they had made on my wrist, smiled up at me and I knew I was theirs for the day. Throughout the course of the day, anytime I would be dancing or drawing with another girl from the shelter, the two original girls would find their way back to me, grab my hand to show me something new, and we would somehow slip back into this pack of three all over again.
At one point I learned that the girls were sisters. The older sister was around 12. Her favorite subject to learn in school is English and she is an amazingly talented artist. Her younger sister (around 9) loves to sing and would continually ask me to sing a song so she could repeat the phrases back and practice her English. I have absolutely zero ability to sing or draw and I know the girls took great pride in trying to teach me both. They continued to give me praise and encouragement even though I was falling short and making little progress in either.
Every day before we leave the hotel we practice yoga together as a group. Seane on the first day described yoga as “a practice of feeling and dealing”—a way for us to feel our emotions and begin the process of dealing with the intense contrast that shows up so readily and so frequently during our experience in India, as well as in our own lives back home. In this morning’s practice right before savasana, Seane asked us to write a letter to someone we have met over the past two weeks who has made an impact on us.
I have met so many bright, loving, special girls on this journey but I knew my letter had to be to the two sisters I met at Nijoloy. This is the letter I wrote to them:
Dear My Two Little Sisters,
First of all, thank you again so much for my beautiful bracelets! I have been wearing them everyday and every time I look down at my wrist I think of you two girls. I had such a fun day with you and I appreciate you taking such good care of me during my visit.
I tried to tell you then, although I’m not sure you understood, but you girls remind me so much of my sister and me. I can tell you really love each other and you are always looking out for each other. My hope and dream for you is that you continue to be so loving, so generous, and so happy. To the older sister: You are a very talented artist. I hope you know that and I hope you are told that in your life over and over again. To the younger sister: You have a sparkle in your spirit—you love to sing and dance and I hope the world opens up for you and allows you to be the strong and spirited girl that you already are.
When I was leaving you told me you would miss me and you both blew me a kiss. Even though we can’t see each other everyday when I close my eyes I can see your little faces and it makes me smile. Remember to take care of each other. Know that you have a mother who loves you and wants every good thing in this world to come your way. Understand that you are bright, strong, and so brave. When you feel sad, close your eyes and remember me as your friend and know that when I close my eyes I will always remember you as mine.
Carly Weis is an acupuncturist and yoga teacher in Rochester, 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.