Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
First of all, thank you to mama for bringing me to the train. I miss you so much. I love that you were bugging me about my retainers up until the last moment...thank you daddy for your attempts at an indian accent and for being so insanely supportive...and to annie and joe I miss you both so much I couldn't possibly explain. Annie: who are you bringing to prom? and Joejoe: bring the heat man, finish your TWO baseball seasons strong.
...so we arrived in Delhi.
My sister annie has a way of personifying the sports she plays as different kinds of boys (eg: crew=the abusive boyfriend, soccer=the old faithful best friend, hockey=the bad boy) If I were to characterize Delhi this way he would be an agressive, mysterious blind date. I am continually surprised by this city. He is hypocritical and completely bipolar but at the same time I can't help falling a little in love a first sight. There are cars everywhere, and yet there will be the occasional cow unappologetically lying in the middle of the road. There are 5 star hotels with a family of 7 living under a tarp next door. There is incredible pollution, and beautiful gardens. In the middle of monsoon weather you will see a homeless family trudging through 2 feet of water, the kids smile and wave at us and the mother is wearing a bright pink and gold salwar-kameez. Delhi is becoming one of the most expensive places to live in the world, yet the poverty is immidiate, in-your-face, overwhelming and humbling. This city is as captivating as it is confusing.
The visit to the UNDP headquarters in Delhi was great. I was able to sit in on meetings but also hang out with the younger staff (late 20's) working there (the self named "funky bunch")...some of the most impressive people I've ever met (especially Caroline who "babysat" me). I also got to meet Reecha, a friend of my aunt who set me up with my internship here. Honestly, I want to be her when I grow up. (And by grow up I mean, like, ten years from now). She moved to Delhi to work for an NGO because she wanted to do work in the field, not just in a cushy UN job in New York. She took me over to meet people at the NGO, I can't wait to post pictures of the "office". Reecha and Caroline got to share in many of my fist adventures in Delhi and I can't thank them enough for their help.
Annyywayyy, I am writing from a tiny village in the district of Orissa on the Bay of Bengal. After a long series of meetings yesturday on Disaster Risk Reduction, we actually got to see DRR in practice today. After a two hour plane flight from Delhi we were greeted at the airport with flowers and bowing. Travelling with Kathleen is really like travelling with royalty sometimes.
We drove and drove and drove and drove through the most intense poverty I have ever seen. It was hard to take in so many swollen children's bellies and starving cows. After sitting in sterile meetings discussing how bad disasters can be for these areas yesturday, I actually SAW these villages that have been washed out 10 times in the last 8 years. When we got to the village it was hard to catch everything with the Hindi flying over my head. One of the members of the disaster response committee walked us over to the village's school. The entire village was sitting infront of four chairs set out for us. They were clapping and yelling...I turned to kathleen and said "sooo this is what it feels like to be a rock star?"
The village explained their disaster response techniques...and then actually acted it out. It was pretty incredible. The warning of the village of a cyclone included a little boy on the back of a bicycle banging a pan. Their first aide kit consited of dirty water and gauze. Their stretchers were bamboo with sacks slung between them. Their search and rescue team was all the teenagers of the village. Yet despite what from an outsiders point of view might seem pathetic, these people were incredibly enthusaistic, proud, and hopeful. Every single person in the village was involved in the recovery. It is easy to see how incredibly important this all is. These efforts on the part of the village could truly save more lives than was ever possible in the "super cyclone" of '99. This sort of response as well as the cooperation with the Indian Government and other NGO's is essential to dealing with the yearly flooding that these villages live through as well as the devestating tsunamis and cyclones. It is easy to compare these successes to the utter lack of disaster relief or risk reduction in Myanmar which is Kathleens next stop (she has one of maybe 100 visas being given out for UN and ASEAN officials to meet in there, she is gearing up for an incredibly hard trip)
I guess this might be the right time to add a side note about how insanely thankful I am that my aunt was able to have meetings in India and help me with everything. I'm so in awe of everything she does. Last night she casually ran through her schedule: disaster relief in india, help me move into my apartment, myanmar for 2 days, then she is giving the keynote speech on how military personell can help stop violence against women in armed conflict (K: "oh you know that 'stop rape now' organization...C: oh my god yah I was on their website the other day K: oh yah well Im giving the talk for them....Im the president or chair of that or whatever. C: oh. my. god.) To Kathleen, I could never thank you enough. je t'adore. bisous bisous bisous. Aussi, mon oncle! I couldn't do this without you.
Okay back to India: After Suripur we had lunch and stopped at an incredible Hindu temple to the Sun God. I will get a picture asap.
After that we went and looked at a cyclone shelter in another village. Again the whole village came and sat infront of us and the leader described the techniques for responding to the cyclone.
Now we are at another village in the UNDP office waiting for our flight back to Delhi.
I got an Indian cell phone (I can text in hindi on it...YESSSS) if you want the number/want me to call email me and I'll get an international calling card asap
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
So the general idea of what I will be doing is helping A2W2 to develop a training module on gender and trafficking to conduct trainings for its members. The training module will make linkages between gender relations, violence against women, masculinities, caste discrimination and the vulnerabilities women face as trafficked victims and in forced prostitution. The development of the training module will require field work in the Bihar and Kolkota A2W2 field offices.
For any one who is interested, here is the description of the NGO that I am working for, their mission and approach as well as some general statistics about the sex trafficking industry in India:
Apne Aap Summary
There are approximately 15 million prostitutes in
These figures have a significant impact on
1. The majority of girls and women end up with HIV and AIDS as they are mostly in slave-like situations and cannot negotiate unprotected sex with their “clients.” This in turns compounds the AIDS epidemic as men go back with AIDS and pass it on to their wives and finally it is a huge health burden on the state exchequer.
2. Increasingly India’s productive work force declines as more and more young girls are enslaved in brothels without education or job skills and more children grow up in red-light areas.
3. Organized criminal syndicates become more powerful as human trafficking gives them access to ready cash, huge turnover and control over enslaved human beings whom they use for petty crimes as their foot soldiers.
4. It tears apart the fabric of families and destroys social capital in
The issue of human trafficking for prostitution or child labour is no longer a disease –it is a malaise. It cannot be ignored. It will chip away at human capital and erode our social capital.
Emmy-winning journalist Ruchira Gupta established an all India NGO, Apne Aap Women Worldwide (A2W2) in 2002 to confront human trafficking with some success and acclaim. She has been awarded for her work at the UK House of Lords and the White House and has been nominated by the Government of India to sit on the Steering Committee of the Planning Commission for the 11th Five Year Plan, the Working Group of the Ministry of Women and Child and the Task Force of the National Human Rights Commission.
In its short six-years, Apne Aap’s work has had a significant impact on reducing human trafficking by setting up easily accessible community centres in red-light areas that provide legal
protection and education to more than 5,000 prostituted women and children directly and transform the lives of over 25,000 people every single day. It has:
1. Broken the cycle of inter-generational prostitution ie daughters of women in prostitution are no longer pulled into prostitution like their mothers but are enrolled into mainstream schools and protected from perpetrators in safe hostels or community centres run by Apne Aap even among communities like Nutts, Bediyas and Devadasis who are marginalized into inter-generational prostitution.
2. Created viable and sustainable options for prostituted women to exit their exploitation by creating small self-help groups (cooperatives) of women in prostitution that are provided with livelihood training and market linkages.
3. Shifted the focus of Indian policy makers to dismantling the organized crime networks running the trafficking chain by training police officials and prosecutors all over
This three pronged attack on the trafficking industry of prevention, protection and prosecution has already begun to yield results with a minimum cost. Apne Aap spends about $ 250 per woman or child for a FULL year and leverages education and legal protection.
Its model of organizing self-help groups in red –light areas not only facilitates leadership among women and children, but transforms into small community based organizations, managed and led by community members. Apne Aap does not set up homes and shelters but is in the process of transforming entire communities in red-light areas so that the areas become non-red light areas. Its first success has been in Khawaspur,
A2W2 today has 5,000 members and works in Bihar,
- Education: literacy classes to children and adults, girls hostels to provide bridge education (catch-up classes) in safety
- Vocational training and setting up small scale collectives/cooperative ( self-help groups) for women and girls so they have livelihood choices other than prostitution
- Legal protection to women and children in the red light areas and slums so that they can safely stop engaging in prostitution
Uniqueness of approach: Apne Aap has developed an innovative strategy to counter human trafficking which has several different components-each one inter-connected and equally innovative. For example we have the Kishori Mandals in each red-light district where we form teenage girls groups with their own office bearers and provide rights training and help with education, combined with building resilience through art. These girls now cannot be seduced tricked or forced into any situation of exploitation. But the success of this is linked with our other strategy of forming self-help groups of prostituted women with their own bank accounts, training in production of goods for markets and linkages with markers. These self-help groups are also mothers groups who are trained in understanding their own rights. The empowerment of the mothers helps the mothers take decisions to protect them from prostitution and participate in the Kishori Mandal activities.
This strategy is then inter-linked with establishing easily accessible community centers in the red-light districts and not taking away the woman and girls to shelters and homes. These centers provide legal protection and education both vocational and literacy, plus a safe space for the women and girls to organize. And as the women and girls get more empowered the community watches and learns- so the transformation is at all levels, even in the community itself.
These successes hinge on the art resilience programme that we follow as well-which build self-confidence through, dance, drawing, mime and music to victims and survivors
Our achievements have been two-fold with this strategy:
a) Breaking the cycle of inter-generational prostitution
b) Creating sustainable, viable options for women to get out of prostitution.
Alright I think that is enough for now :)
Alright I think that is enough for now :)