What we did before the team got here... and how it rocked my world
Matt, John and I snuck off to India a day before the team with a special mission. A little task that ended up being hugely impacting!
But to understand why, I need rewind to a different day, 12 years ago. On my first ever India trip, I visited a remote Indian tribal village. When we arrived the young girls were herded against a wall and lined up for easy viewing. I later learnt this was because they thought we wanted to purchase the girls, who were often trafficked. With the support of sponsors, these girls were offered the opportunity of an education. They stayed and studied at the Foundation's Girls School during school terms and returned home to their families during holidays.
Fast forward twelve years…..
Yesterday, we went to visit some of the same tribal families. We accompanied a few of the women who completed their studies at our Girls Boarding School and were again returning home to visit their families. Since finishing school, these amazing women have completed degrees in Nursing, Biomedical Science and Commerce and are working in their chosen professions or completing Masters degrees. We sat with them and their families, as their mothers spoke about how proud they were of their daughters.
There was something more sacred in that moment then I could process at the time. It’s still more then I can fathom. Thing is, stories of young girls being trafficked and exploited are sadly not uncommon. Stories of girls being rescued from these oppressive situations are thankfully becoming more common.
What is rare, are stories of girls who are given the opportunity to forge a different story for themselves within their current world and, in doing so, challenge the very values and social systems that disadvantaged them.
It’s rare because generally speaking, significant change is painstakingly slow. In ‘aid’ or ‘development’, we celebrate the small hints of a forward moving trajectory, knowing that big change is seen across generations rather than within them. But this sort of shift in culture and mindset, in a mere decade, its nothing short of miraculous! From a cultural understanding, embedded over hundreds of years, that says girls are a burden or curse, to a mother pridefully boasting of her daughters education. As much as I revel in the frustratingly slow but inciting process of 'progress', and as much as I encourage the world to participate in its awesomeness, seeing a change this radical - it rocked my world! I hope it rocks yours.
To the people who’ve sponsored one of these girls or given to different Foundation projects, you haven’t just changed a life, you empowered a life to model a better humanity, which in turn shifted mindsets and culture. You’re participating in forming and shaping a better world.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― Richard Buckminster Fuller