by Tammy Binkley, Global Seva India Posted on February 28th, 2013
After 12 months of talking about sex trafficking and working hard to raise awareness and money for these girls, today it became really real.
By day three of this trip, we have met and learned about some of the organizations that we gave money to. Met the courageous and compassionate leaders (mostly women) who are fierce and affecting change. We have met the girls that have been rescued and held the children who hold the hope for change. The first few days have been filled with inspiration, light and hope with an undercurrent of knowing, without really knowing, what has happened to these girls.
At the end of day three when we entered the red light district, it became real and surreal. The road was narrow with tall dark soot-covered walls. There were many alleyways that channeled off of the main road, all dark and dank. It was Friday night, busy and bustling. As we entered the center square many women, I would guess around fifty or more, were lined up in their beautiful saris vibrantly dressed.
As we passed by, I smiled and waved at a few of the women and a few smiled and waved back at me. It was confusing to me exactly what to do. As we walked deeper into the area headed toward the childcare drop-in center, where children of the sex workers go in the afternoon, it was clear which madams were in charge, either of themselves or others. They were “large and in charge.”
I was anxious during this walk to get to our location but also curious. I wanted to look down the alleyways and into the doorways, but the only thing to see was more darkness, which I was already feeling. The energy was dark and heavy, palpable. We arrived at the drop-in center and visited with the children for a short while, as we had to leave the area before dark.
It was dusk as we began our walk back to the bus. I was in the front of the group and by this point, my senses and emotions had had enough. I had seen what I came to see, to witness the horrors that happen every day here and the world of women selling their bodies with or without their will. To see it, feel it, smell it, this is what it took for me to realize that it is real. At this point I was ready to run, but the guide was walking so slow, chit chatting with me about Florida. My first instinct was to run. It took much self-control to walk slowly with him and keep breathing.
Again on the return trip out, I was forcing a smile and a wave at the girls trying to keep the look of sorrow and pity off of my face, but I am not sure I did. As we passed a group sitting on a stoop very close to me on my left side, I glanced down to wave and smile only to see a young girl with the biggest swollen oozing black eye I have ever seen. This group of about five girls did not smile or wave back and they had the saddest eyes. I will never forget the sadness that I witnessed in that group. It took me out of my body and left me ungrounded for quite a while.
On this trip we are using yoga to process the trauma and tension out of our bodies to get grounded. Seeing trauma in these girls brings up our own trauma and this is the work. . . to be able to stay present. The next morning during yoga practice, I dedicated my practice to these girls. We prayed and sang our prayers, tears flowed and the energy flowed. OM mani padme hum. May all beings be free from suffering. May the women and children be free. . . NOW.
Tammy Binkley is a yoga teacher from Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. 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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