I can’t believe that I’ve been back from India for over a month, and I’ve yet to post here about my time in that beautiful, crazy place! To bring everyone up to speed…October of last year, I had a dream to travel the world telling the stories through photography. I had only shared that dream with a couple of people when a friend of mine (who had no idea about my desires) asked me to come with her to India to photograph the jewelry project she had recently started. I almost started crying at the thought that my dream could become a reality. But it did! March 20th I boarded a plane for the long journey to Pune.
I had been to India once before, almost 13 years ago. Many things had changed and the impact of what I saw this time around was intensified, even through the lens of my camera. As a mother of two, my heart broke to see kids living on the street and the very young girls pregnant with child, probably as a result of rape. I felt like I was floating in a dream while we spent time with young, beautiful girls who were trapped in modern day slavery. Can you imagine chatting with someone and they have to get up to entertain a customer? Like I said, it was like a dream. I kept thinking, “This isn’t really happening, is it?” But it was and it is.
The streets, the brothel, and the slums all showed the devastation that is so hard for the Western mind to fathom, but we also saw the hope. We visited children’s homes who have rescued kids off the street, saving them from a vicious cycle that leads to life in a brothel. We spent time with girls who have been rescued out of the brothel and are learning to make jewelry so that they can have an alternative means of income. We saw the hope.
I realized, as a photographer, that both stories must be told. Awareness must be made, but the hope drives us to ask, “What is my part?” It takes away the sense of feeling overwhelmed and replaces it with encouragement that something is being done. Here in America, it’s so hard for us to fathom this kind of life, unless perhaps we’ve visited these places ourselves. It’s easy to turn a blind eye, but I do believe we have a responsibility to ask that simple question, “What can I do?” It’s not a question to bring upon guilt, but it’s in response to the truth that human life is valuable, and atrocities such as these must be stopped. I believe we all have a part, so I encourage you today to ask yourself what yours is.
One way you can do your part is to buy jewelry. Yes, it’s that easy! Through Hope’s Gate you can purchase jewelry made by the ladies in India. What a great gift to give! Not only do you get a beautiful pair of earrings, but your simple purchase helps a woman stay out of life in a brothel. It’s a beautiful and simple way to make a difference in someone’s life. To purchase jewelry from Hope’s Gate visit here.
I’ve written many posts on my personal blog about my trip…Modern Day Slavery, Life On The Streets, Changing A Child’s Future, Jewelry Equals Hope, The Slums, and Reflecting On India. Rather than turning this post into a book (because there really is so much to say!) I invite you to click over and let your heart be stirred even more.