10 x 10 x 10
I will be brief. Such is the nature of writing in the blogosphere. But do contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to converse. There is so much more to talk about as we join forward.
I have been to India. And India is still with me. On my mind. Under my skin. In my heart. Perhaps most haunting – and inspiring – is the time we had with some of the Apne Aap women. Women who were sold, kidnapped, or tricked into prostitution. Women whose daily routine includes rape and degradation at the hands of nameless, faceless men. Women who wear beautiful colors, laugh, dance, gossip, and snuggle their babies. Women for whom the combination of ordinary and extraordinary life circumstances defies words.
I cannot pretend to know them or to understand their lives. But I know what I heard and I know what I felt. Some talked about sending their daughters to live in hostels, so that they would not be raped into their mothers’ lives. They spoke of having hope for their daughters, but not for themselves. They said it was worth the pain of letting their young girls go. Some talked about fighting back and how men learn what women will tolerate and not. Some said nothing, but they were there, which means that there are times when their stories are told, and heard.
What I felt then is what I feel today.
And I hope it remains true and clear tomorrow, and the day after, and next year, and so on. I was in the presence of last girls. Who had grown into last women. Who are now last mothers. Who are determined. Not to let their daughters be last girls.
Women who are simultaneously a generation of loss and a generation of hope. Women who say: it stops with me. It stops with ME. It STARTS with me.
Apne Aap organizes women 10 at a time. 10 who understand the selflessness and sacrifice that are required to achieve change. 20 who send their daughters away. 30 who see liberation down the road, even if not in their lifetime. 40 who find 10 more. 10 by 10 by 10.
In the U.S., there are thousands of organizations committed to social justice. This means that there are millions of individuals (staff, volunteers, supporters) already involved. The possibilities are a mathematician’s dream – that’s a blog for another day. Today, I want to stay, simply, with the number 10. I want to stop writing and find 10 people who live with absolute and unapologetic “it stops with me, it starts with me” attitude. And I want you to do the same. Because, if there are enough of us, IT will happen. It will.
I have been to India. And India is still with me. Namaste.
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