Boys town grabbed my heart the moment I walked in. I didn’t know what I felt but I knew I wanted to feel that way forever. At first they were a mass of boys who wanted nothing more than to sing “popsico” and get to know you. Then after spending four days running an activity holiday for them in Yelligri Hills they became these amazing individual boys who I was privileged to know and who will go on to amazing things thanks to MadrasYMCA and their support.
However it was the Oasis tailoring women who completely captured my heart. In a culture that often refuses to let women reach their full potential and expects them to stop fulfilling their own life and cater to a husbands life’s, these women had a chance to do something for themselves.
In the female empowerment session, run by Caitlin, the women were asked to write their passions and what was stopping them. It was heart shattering to hear that it was mainly money that prevented them, but there was one woman who said as she was getting married her husband would no longer let her work. It was hard as you wanted to grab her by the shoulders and tell her she is worth so much more than that and any man that wants to oppress her is not worth her time, that she had so much potential and couldn’t ever let anyone stop her, alas it’s the culture there and we must respect it.
The next part of the session was saying what they can do to over come it, when me and Caitlin got back to the YMCA we read some, hers simply read “I will change my husbands mind, and I will carry on working” for me this made all the stress of getting here, all the hard work and all the tears completely and totally worth it because of that woman’s view.
Those women were so inspiring, they inspired me to go home and achieve my goals. I was scared of so many things before going to India, scared of failing, scared of trying for my goals and missing, scared of telling people what I wanted in life for fear of ridicule, scared of raccoons. And although my fear of raccoons is still strong (I don’t know why I just don’t trust them!) I have learnt that even though where I live may not have total equality, I have so much freedom and for me not to grab that with both arms is insulting and ungrateful. This was a common theme in India, those we went to help and give to, those that had nothing where normally the ones that gave us the most. Even though the lives they lived compared to ours were poorer and harder, I left feeling more at peace and full of hope because of the care and love we were shown.
Seeing the poverty in Chennai broke me, but the people put me back together x