We came back from India yesterday and I miss it already, The busy streets, the people staring at us always, the chaotic but beautiful city! I loved it! I would go back tomorrow if i could. And it's really really cold in Germany compared to the 90 degree, very humid weather we had the past two weeks! But I'm happy to be back with the rest of my team again at least!
We went to India with a goal of finishing the book that we've been working on since earlier this year. This book is going to tell the stories of the people we have met on the outreaches to Ethiopia and India that took place at the beginning of the year, and the ways that we were able to help them through the projects that were started particularly in Ethiopia with Drawn from Water, The Rahab Project, and Garbage City. When it came to the India section of the book we realized that the material wasn't as strong as the Ethiopia section, But we were sure that God had more for the India section. It was decided that we should make another trip to India to get more pictures and stories and to find a Project that we could support through the book.
While we were searching for a contacts and where we should go we were told about a woman who works in Mumbai with women and children from the red light area! Vera was raised in Mumbai and grew up just one street over from the red light district. Her family left Mumbai when she was about 22. They came to America where Vera receive her college degree in Micro Biology. Soon after that she turned to the mission field and got involved with Ywam. She became good friends with our base leader here in Germany, Jan, who is also a photographer and has a huge passion for work in the red light. Through him she found out about the area, she was in disbelief because she hadn't even known about it before. After visiting it herself, she decided that something had to change. She is now running a children's home for 9 girls from the red light area. They are all daughters or orphans of mothers in prostitution. And they are super cool! She is also partnering with a few other ministries working in the red light area, Helping not only the children get out of the area but working with their mothers as well.
Early on in the trip even in the preparation time we had discussed possibly starting another RAHAB cafe in India. Through a conversation with Vera we found out that at the moment Vera doesn't have a way to get the mothers out of prostitution but she has been thinking for a while about how they could do that. So we presented to her the vision of the RAHAB project and told her about the cafe in Ethiopia, and that we would love to partner with her and provide the finances to start a business for the women that she works with! and she was really excited and had the idea of having a second-hand shop that the ladies could work at and also to combine that with Jewelry making! so now we are working on a business plan for that and are going to hopefully be able to get things started in December or January!!
We were able to meet two of the ladies that she works with who's daughters and granddaughter are living with vera in the children home. We had the opportunity to talk to them about their lives and got there stories which was really cool. (I won't share to much about their stories because they will be featured in the book so it has to be a surprise :-P) We hoped to get their pictures then but at the time they were both pretty tired and so we decided to just do it another day. Later we realized that getting good photographs of these ladies is not as easy as we anticipated.
Going into the red light area is one thing and taking pictures there is even more difficult. At first you can't really tell the difference between the red light area and a regular side street there are men and children walking around people with carts and different cafes and shops just as normal. But then we notice that there are women aged anywhere from teenagers to older women standing in front of almost every "house", Leaning against taxi's, standing in front of shops, or sitting on cots on the side of the road. All of them brightly dressed in colorful saris. No matter what time of the day you go there the women are working. Because we're white we just get a lot of attention and there aren't many opportunities that we had to just take out our cameras and start shooting. Also because we are actually publishing the photo's we take that takes a lot of discernment of when it's appropriate to take a picture and when it could be exploitative or rude. So that was very frustrating at times. Stephanie and I ended up spending a lot of time in the hotel room just waiting for the opportunity to take photos and spend more time with the women only to have them not work out. We kept having to delay the photo taking till it was finally delayed till the last day of the trip!
One day we had a really cool opportunity to visit some of the ladies that vera works with in their home. We sat for a while and talked to some of the ladies that were there and were even able to hear their stories a little. All the women have different stories of how they got into sex work, but they are almost always associated with poverty and abuse. We were sitting about five of us in a small room at the front of the house, The doorway to the rest of the house (where the women receive customers) was covered by a curtain and every once in a while some women would walk in and out, Our translator asked us if we wanted to see the rest of the house, So we walked through the curtain into a small hallway wide enough of one person and in in the hallway on either side were rooms just big enough for one bed and a pile of condoms on the bed and just a curtain covering the door. After that we went with one of the ladies, Anusaya, to walk around at a bunch of different touristy spots, It was a pretty great time even though we didn't speak Hindi and she didn't speak English.
While we were there we met with another guy that Vera knows called Karan he took some of the team on a walk through the red light area which was only about a 15 minute walk from where we were staying, and then we learned more about what he does, Which is also really cool. He works with a ministry for street kids and every friday plays cricket with them and does bibles studies with them, and generally just tries to help them and get them off drugs in school and off the street. He also helps the practically and every wednesday takes them all to a river to get clean wash their clothes, get their haircut etc. and some of the team got to go with them to do that as well. we decided that he will be another project featured in the book!
On the last day that we were there Stephanie and I finally got to meet with the two women that we had talked with earlier in the trip and were able to take their photos! After that we were even able to go and visit Anusaya at her house! We climbed up three flights of stairs and then were able to actually sit on her bed with her and talk to her while she was getting ready for the day. We had a translator this time and she asked if we had enjoyed the time, and had really great conversation with her. We even were able to take pictures of her inside her home and it was an awesome time. definitely my favorite day. So we were able to leave with assurance that our goal was finally accomplished!
YAY! we were so excited.
So a huge thank you to everyone who was praying for our team! I think it was a great sucess!
Today i'm going to develop my films and see how they worked out!
Please pray that I don't mess it up! :-)