In the summer of 2011, four SFU Health Sciences Co-op students, Martyna, Silvia, Lindsay and Christine went on an INCREDIBLE 4-month work term to India. Working with Destiny Reflection, an organization whose goal is to empower female victims of human trafficking to become self-sufficient through dignified employment. Their blog series, SFU Health Sciences Takes India!, captures some of the experiences on their life changing journey.
Already three months has passed since we arrived in India. The four of us constantly talk amongst ourselves how we have become expert travellers. We no longer freak out when we have to take the train. We know how to negotiate with taxi drivers, buy veggies and fruit off the street and have finally figured out how the transit system operates (figuring the bus out was an accomplishment considering that there are no bus stops and sometimes you need to jump on the bus while it is still moving).
We all think that we have come a long way from the time we arrived in Mumbai at 3am, had 14 taxi drivers surrounding us and were trying to attempt to get a ride to some girl’s house who we have never met before (Anu we all love you and can’t wait to see you again). However, we feel that the greatest strives that we have made is bonding with the girls who we work with.
When we first arrived at Destiny everyone was very accommodating; however, the language barrier limited our interaction. Furthermore, Destiny started receiving more orders. This is super awesome, but it was difficult to spend time together because they work so hard. In the past two months we have made a conscious effort to eat lunch with the girls every day. It is the only time that we get away from our computers and they take a break on their sewing machines. We have learned to communicate through alternative means. We are pretty sure that most of the time the girls are laughing at us, and not with us. Over the past few weeks the girls have become completely comfortable with us. We all watch Indian Bollywood music videos on Youtube together, we show them pictures of our families, we observe their creativity, and each work day we have fruit hour.
The most beneficial experience with these remarkable women has been seeing them interact with one another. Having lunch a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stop thinking how these women are so similar to us, but stronger. These are young women, who have experienced the worst atrocity imaginable, and here they are now being economically empowered, they are the breadwinners in their families, they give to their workplace community, and they are constantly laughing. They arrive at work every morning ready to be productive, and they don’t let their pasts get them down. They are happy, and this positive attitude radiates on all of us in the office. It is as a result of these amazing amazing amazing women that we have become more appreciative of our lives, realize our opportunities and are willing to use our blessings to empower other women.