So my plan for a daily post was quickly dashed by the reality that the internet access at our guest house was not only inconsistent but nonexistent much of the time. The few hours in the morning and evening that it did grudgingly work, it was as slow as I felt in the intense heat and humidity. The posts that I thought did go through, never did. Therefore...begin...again...
Speaking of patience, have I mentioned the traffic? Even slower than the internet access. It can take 4 hours to cross the city, accord to the taxi driver. Breakdowns, accidents, general gridlock combined with fumes from ancient diesel engines, hoards of motorbikes, the heat, and lack of air-conditioning in taxis and our van make any trip in this town of Kathmandu trying at best. Just remember, drink water...lots of it. Then make sure you have TP in your pocket when you hit the loo.
Today we visited Raksha Nepal (www.rakshanepal.org). The founder, Menuka, is a powerhouse of energy, smarts, and pure joy. She has her own story to tell and being the youngest of 8 girls in a culture that holds women as second class citizens, she also holds empathy and compassion in great amounts. Her vision is an umbrella that holds as parts of what is needed to free women and children in Nepal from sexual exploitation.
Each story is different, and each has the common thread of disempowerment. Menuka's answer to this is: Create awareness, rehabilitate, reintegrate, lobby, rescue, provide economic support, counseling, health education, legal support, shelter, a home, and schooling. No small agenda here. But she does so with grace and a heck of a big smile. We met her group of 45 or so women, (twice the number we were expecting to be with) gathered in a social hall, dressed in their finest, wearing their own big and shy smiles. I could almost see their stories in their faces. The hall had been set up with banquet tables end to end so that made it difficult for us to work with them in smaller groups, which we much preferred. We did the best we could, bringing forth an array of art materials (lots of glitter, sparkles, paints, all shapes and sizes of creative possibilities). We ran the large sheets of paper down the center of the tables and we all went to work/play. With music blaring, we danced and played together, creating individual and collective heart love through art. Not all were engaged tho. Some were clearly listless, illiterate, and simply unable to comprehend what we were up to. With these women, smiles created a bridge. And dancing always saves the day. We moved the tables, turned up the music and let it rip.