So. I am in India.
And the tone of the blog will change-- Mostly because I am living here rather than touring. When touring, it is easy to write and tell of the day’s adventures. When living somewhere adventures become making sure you get on the right bus and that you don’t pass out when walking to work. As a result, I will mostly be writing thoughts and ideas, Lesson learned, humbling experiences (which occur everyday), and yes, funny stories will make their way into the blog as well.
Also, the tone will change because of what I am doing. I’ll give a brief background and explanation- not to show off or because I think I am changing the world- I am not. But I share so that people will be aware of what is going on in the world. To force people out of their daily routine and their daily mindset- and to share the every growing amount of gratitude I have for my endless blessings.
I am volunteering at New Light, which takes care of children of sex workers- Children that are marked by society as nothing. The daughters are fit for nothing more than the life their mothers have which they were forced into either through trafficking or through poverty. And the boys, well, they will follow in the footsteps of the male ‘role’ models in the area- becoming facilitators of the sex industry or making money by selling alcohol or whatever at a higher price to make quick money which instead of being used for something fruitful like education is squandered on material nothings. What New Light does is provide education, food, a safe place to stay, and a way out. Once girls are 12 or 13 they are moved to another home away from Kalighat, an old red light district of Kolkata and where New Light operates. It is no longer safe for them to be in that area.
Every morning I walk down a little lane passing women, children, goats, dogs, and men. The lane is lined with little 'houses'- homes of the sex workers. The morning isn’t a big deal. It could be another little lane in India if you didn’t know better –people washing themselves in the spickets, children playing. The evening is different. The women are dressed and put together…and sitting at the end of the lane. Waiting.
For those that worry about me walking in and out of red light district everyday, don’t. I am in no danger of being trafficked. It doesn’t work like that in India. Your family-- an aunt, a grandma, even sometimes a mother—starts you in the industry if you weren’t trafficked in from a village somewhere else. You have to have nothing – no education, no money, no support—that is how women get stuck. Where do they have to go? And now they have children to feed with no father to help support the children. Some mothers abandon their children left to be raised by someone else in the area whether a friend or a relative. New Light takes these children. Sure the mothers have visiting rights. “fathers” have none.
I work with the children in the morning, and by work I mostly mean play. Most speak a little English so we communicate roughly. The older children generally know more and can translate from Bengali to English for me. Then I do research. Research the Trafficking in Persons report, different laws going into place, and whatever else is needed.
In reality, I learn by just being there. I think sometimes as a law student, you think that you can solve all the injustices in the courtroom – buying too often into the classic John Grisham tale of success. However, one must understand what one is fighting to do any good. I am starting to understand just how big and monstrous the sex trafficking industry is…and it isn’t like I hadn’t researched and studied it before I came to India. I had. I THOUGHT I knew. I didn’t know anything.