12 hours after my friends have posted about the full moon/blood moon/lunar eclipse we get to experience it here in Kathmandu,Nepal, though we are unable to view the lunar eclipse. We can, most definitely though, feel the intense energy of all that is happening.
And, of course, the place where it all plays out is right here at the Boudha Stupa. It changes from day to day, seemingly magically, though clearly, many are working through the night to make these reflected changes. This morning, the stupa was surrounded in a circle by numerous people in need, most disabled in some way. People missing limbs, those suffering all sorts of maladies, mental and physical, received alms, food, and other items which those circumnavigating the stupa brought for them. It clearly was a time to give to those in need.
Candles were everywhere, incense was burning in volumes, horns and other unknown instruments were playing, pilgrims were praying with their malas while walking around the stupa in a circle, monks were chanting, dogs were fighting to figure out who is lead dog...and the world goes on.
Yes, it is an auspicious time, and that is reflected in the complex realms of Tibetan Buddhism.
This is one simple story, one of many, that tell of man's inhumanity to man. Or more accurately, man's inhumanity to woman.
We arrived, here in Kathmandu, Nepal, for our second day, working with the 7 women from Harambee Arts - survivors and supporters of human trafficking, which has increased 50% since the earthquake.
One of the women is late, as she has been at the hospital with a young pregnant woman who has recently been returned from Dubai where she had been employed as a domestic worker, having been taken from Nepal and flown to the middle east.
"Been returned" means she has been rescued from her "employer" in Dubai who has impregnated her. She arrived back in Nepal, in the late stages of pregnancy with complications. Ultimately the baby died, the mothers life was saved and she is on her way to recovery. But her next journey is just beginning - that of healing not only her body, but her heart and her soul of this horrendous experience.
They file into the workshop space and I am shocked at how young they all are. Ranging in age from 10- 20 or so, most of the 25 are in the lower end of that. One had only been at the "safe house" for a few days, having just been rescued. Others had been there for a year as they built a new life for themselves, most being isolated from their families who would not welcome them back home. They are on their own, relying on the sisterhood of other survivors of human trafficking and the numerous NGOs operating in Nepal whose purpose is to help them resettle back into their country. They are here for two days of expressive arts therapy - a small reprieve in their otherwise hard climb back into life.
The workshop teachers are women who were much like themselves, a few years back. They have been trained now in this method of using art and movement as a place for creativity and generating joy. They get to draw their "inner" and "outer" selves and other exercises that serve to give them an island of joy in the midst of the many problems in their lives.
They are children, children who have lost their childhood, and replaced it with an unimaginable horror. The paper and the crayons become their retreat. For a short time they get lost in the joy of creation. A glimpse into the possibility of a new life, a new way of seeing themselves.
" I feel that I am not alone being here like this."
" I made a tree - now I forget all those bad memories of my past. I learned many things here, now I move forward".
These are just a few comments from the girls we have been working with the past 2 days. Many recently rescued from unimaginable scenarios, these girls revel in the creative world of art and movement, playful and happy, if only for a short time. They are strengthening their sisterhood ties and finding new ways of creating their new life.
Some unable to write, another beside them who can helps them as they struggle to write what cannot be spoken. Or struggle to speak, to find their voice. But their love of dance and music and song and play cannot be stifled. In the midst of their horror they are able to somehow retain their joy.
Several are barely able to speak, another can barely raise her eyes, several are in tears...and they all have touched us deeply.
First time flying and the girls got the special welcome of landing in Hong Kong in a typhoon! As if they were not frightened enough, never having flown before. Gloria few with them, thank goodness, but our tickets could not be changed so she had to hold 7 shaking hands during the flight and landing.
Hong Kong is an interesting place for the women to be the first place to visit outside of Nepal. The two could not be more different. HK is masses of tall apartment building, one after another. Lots of concrete, LOTS of people everywhere, and little personality and diversity. Not surprisingly, the group did not like it and looked forward to heading home.
They did enjoy the conference. Their workshop presentation went well. I worked with Sarala, the leader, on a powerpoint presentation that included photos and the group performed their dance, with not a dry eye in the house. And they were happy with their performance.
They answered questions, and several told their stories. One of them was moved to tears herself as she was telling her story. That said more than a thousand words could. The participants left with a deepened and opened heart.
We sold lots of prayer flags and courage cards to generate donations.