Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How I know Jesus loves me

How I know I Jesus loves me ... because I see the way Kristin loves Mitu.

I think Jesus loves us like Kristin Keen loves Mitu. He loves us into freedom. He loves when we can not imagine the new life he has to offer us; he loves us when we decide that we want the life he has to offer us enough to go after it with His help.

Kristin loves Mitu like Jesus loves us. She loved her before she wanted a new life. She loves her enough to be continually pursuing her. She loves her now that she wants a new life enough to ask for it. Kristin loved Mitu into a new life. She loves her enough to celebrate Mitu’s new life with cake. She loves her when she quits enough to go after her…to tell her she can do it. She loves her enough to tell her. She loves her with her heart and soul…worrying, crying, praying and laboring in love on Mitu’s behalf. Kristin loves Mitu like Jesus loves us. Everyday she wonders how she can help Mitu succeed in her choice for a new life…to uphold and encourage but not disempower. She loves her enough to give her a shove in the right direction and still not lead her by the nose. She loves her in her new life and she loves her if someday soon she quits….and if she quits Kristin will pursue her and love her back again.

There is a red light full of women and Kristin pursues the little one who is most lost…like Jesus who will leave the 99 sheep for the one that was lost. Jesus loves us like Kristin Keen loves Mitu. Kristin Keen loves Mitu like Jesus loves us!! I have rarely seen God’s love so beautifully manifested in the flesh in the tangible example of my friend Kristin Keen. It really is amazing!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sari Bari has Started!!

Sari Bari started...feb 20 will go down in history as the first official days of Sari Bari. The day the first sari blanket was started as a means for the freedom of the women of the red light districts of kolkata. It was amazing and so normal! We were expecting 3 but ended up with 4 ladies...Usha, Bashanti, Champa, and Aroki! They all jumped right in and were eager to learn. We have hired 2 great trainers Upendra and Gita and they really got us off to a great start after our friend and fellow WMF staff worker Kiran led us in a 20 minutes of devotions with the ladies.

We have also been able to hire one more lady part time to look after aroti's small little girls and help us out with cleaning the center --she said she is 80 and is not really able to sew but is desperate for a job. She is a sweet presence and acts as a mother to the ladies and i am thankful to be included as one of her daughters!

Two of the ladies will not be able to continue to afford their rent at the end of training and they start work full we need to pray for new places for them to stay!

And for those of you who have been praying for you...i am much, much better...still got a little hanging on but almost at 100 percent!!

more on Sari Bari as it happens :) !!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a good day to follow a bad one

today is a good day. still sick and my throat hurts again after two hours in the AC trying to get plane tickets for people but it is still a good and amazing day. I started today with a little bebo and then some prayer and then i check my email and i have such encouraging emails from julie and mom and dad and laura and daphne and josh and manus---so thank you!!

today sari bari had it's first interviews and 3 women from the kalighat red light area came and will all start training next week on monday...this is an amazing gift. the meeting went really well and i am really encouraged. so that makes today even more amazing--sari bari is starting and will be apart of bringing freedom to 3 women.

and about yesterday...sometime just talking through a few things relieves the i feel not so alone today. thanks for praying.

Monday, February 13, 2006

my broken crappy self

sometimes you see crazy things here in kolkata...tonight walking down the street i watched a police man intentional break the headlight of a taxi for some minor offense i am sure. I watched him whack, whack, whack till the headlight broke while the taxi driver sat there helpless to respond. he was powerless. i think i know how he feels. I feel someone is going whack, whack, whack at my headlights until they break for some minor make me feel powerless and maybe so that they can feel powerful. i wonder if i am on the other end of this sometimes--the one doing the whacking making someone else feel powerless.

This is how i feel these stair twisted upwards but still twisted. I feel so full of holes and probably not ready to stand up to the weight of the next person who wants to engage me. Living in community is hard. Today i kind of feel like i want to give up because i feel like there are no easy relationships in my life. Everything is hard. From a simple request to the most complex discussion things are hard. Now i am probably just venting here because in general things are good....but i am feeling quite alone and isolated...afraid to take the next step up because i fear the backlash, i fear being alone, i fear being rejected. i guess this is a little vulnerable for a blog that alot of people read but right at this moment i do not where else to vent.

so i guess if you read this pray for our community here. pray for me to be humble, gentle and willing to submit my own desires for the benefit of the community.

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Indo-Pak girls forced into prostitution

Indo-Pak girls forced into prostitution

Asian News International
Lahore, February 6, 2006
Hindustan Times

In a startling case of organised women trafficking that has come to light, Pakistani and Indian girls aged between 11 and 13 are being smuggled to the Middle East countries for being forced into prostitution there. The girls, who are shown as aged between 20 and 22 on their passports, are brought to these countries on the pretext of getting them attracting jobs.

Over the years the trade has been flourishing, as there is great demand of virgin girls in these countries since the rich Sheikhs love having sex with young girls. The traffickers use blood capsules on the girls' bodies in order to "prove" their virginity.

The case came to light after a human rights activist Ansar Burney rescued some minor girls from the Middle East, and he came across some horrifying facts regarding the flesh trade going on in the region. "The blood packed in capsules used by human traffickers to show that girls are virgin, could contain viruses and can spread AIDS or other contagious diseases," Ansar Burney warned.

According to The News, the girls revealed that most of their companions belonged to Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Russia.

"Most of the victims are between the age of 11 to 13 years and are smuggled to the Arab countries where they are forced into prostitution in Middle East and Arab countries," the paper quotedone of the victims as saying. She added that on the passports, ages of these girls were shown as 20 to 22 years old.

She said the human traffickers promised a beautiful and bright future and respectable jobs in the Middle East and Arab countries to lure young girls and after reaching abroad these girls are forced into prostitution.

"The traffickers forced the young girls to show themselves as virgins because most of their clients demanded young girls," another victim said adding, "after arrival and clearance from the airport the traffickers took her passport and forced her physically to do what she was told."

The "agents" use tools like informing the police and of telling their families against their sex slaves, said the paper. One of the rescued victims said that threats of violence kept the victims in line and in some cases these threats became reality. Many girls were forced to have abortions and were forced back to work within weeks, she said and maintained that beatings and forced abortions were common in the life of the sex slaves.

"Some of the rich people in these countries like sex with young girls," she revealed.

Ansar Burney urged Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to direct the concerned department to take stern action against those who were involved in trafficking of young girls for prostitution. "I urge the concerned governments, their leaders, the United Nations, UN Human Rights Commission and other international human rights groups to come forward and help the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust International to save the world before it is too late," he added.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Reflection from Beth

Last night walking home after a long day. In between dodging sidewalkobstacles…sleeping dogs, rickety swerving cycle rickshaws, lopsided bricks doublingas a walking path…I tried to remind myself of who I am…tried to wrap my mind aroundthe reality that is my life here. I spent yesterday, just as so many days before,visiting girls who live sprawled along a stretch of road, an area called sonagachi.Red light. Or so the public says. What do they call it? Life? Hell? Deserved? I walk down the road passing women, children, girls dressed in sloppy lipsticks,some of them. Painted eyebrows, some of them. Golden jewelry. Beautiful clothwound around their bodies…attempts, for us all to hide our shame. I walk pastthem, wondering where they’ve already been by the time I see them early in theafternoon. What their nights will hold in store for them. More tricks. More pain.More numb. It ranges each day, from new arrivals who have just moved in months or daysbefore…to the weathered faces of the madams, oppressed women turned oppressor. For revenge? For a living? For what? Some eyes eagerly meet my own, their painted lips parting in welcomingsmiles…others seem to cautiously look away, unsure, unable. Arms pretzeled acrosstheir chests. Closed off. At least from appearances. Others, seem to be somewhereelse. Their village? Their previous night? Their coffin? Staring with eyes ofstone, I wonder how to reach and plant seeds in their hearts. I walk past insecure, wondering what they think of me. Fearing to take the risk ofsaying hi, of reaching out. Of being rejected. Do they fear the same? Do they feel at all. Or do they feel like I do at times walking up the stairs of their brothels.Nothing. Empty. For them, I pray this over the other options… When I see their husbands and their customers, laying relaxed on the bed thatfills the tiny crawl space they call a room, a home, I try to connect the lines ofthis lifestyle, knowing that these men, many of them, are the enslavers of theirwomen, as their property, as their work horses. And I think of these women. Talking with me, smiling and eating, and cooking, andbuying me tea. And I try sometimes to reenact their lives. To captureunderstanding of what might have drug them to this place. Where dirt and blood andgreed and centuries of painful lives paint the walls I walk between. But it’shard. It’s hard to watch a girl switch personalities like I slip off a pair of sandals.Talking with me, attending a customer. Like that. Just like that. Two worlds, sameplace. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with all this…where to store it in my mind, inmy heart, in my prayers. What I want, is to be intentional with every girl I talk with. with everymovement. Every smile. I fear. But I want to shove out the fear with risking in love. For perfect lovedrives out fear. And I want my love to be born out of brokenness…brokenness that happens longbefore I step off the metro at Girish Park and walk the half mile to the road ofgirls who line the streets, standing day in and day out in the same exact place toattract a day’s rent and a belly’s worth of food. Then, when I see my friends,when I touch their hands, and hear their stories…stories void of redemption voidof a savior…in my already broken state, I can offer to be with them. Where theyare, offering the kind of redemption and comfort my Savior offers me. I often have variations of the same vision for this place. For this street stuffedfull with girls, stooped, standing, kneeling, waiting, watching, talking, zoning,knitting, curious and accusative, dying and living…I have this vision…that I’mwalking alone down their street, carrying a single lamp, a single flame, carryingso as not to quench the fragile flame. And lighting the path for them, bringinglight to the darkness. Shining it on their faces, on their lives, shining andrevealing. And the Light brings warmth, and it brings comfort, and it’sattractive. And I walk through, and I offer what I have to them. Ye, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death…we can fear noevil…for the Light is with us…fear not for you will not be put to shame…and do notfeel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame ofyour youth, and the reproach of your womanhood you will remember no more. For yourhusband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts, and your Redeemer is theHoly One of Israel”….this is the lamp I dream to carry, this is the lamp already,I quietly carry each time I enter sonagachi. This is the lamp I pray they one daywill clutch as well. So this is me. walking, and clutching, and waiting, fearing and risking andloving. Alongside the daily normal…or not so normal routine I’ve found myselfliving. And I’m praying that you’d also envision this same picture. for yourselves.Because these situations, these needs are not just happening safely thousands ofmiles out of your reach…no, you are needed. You too, are part of this vision.Maybe not for women sold into sexual slavery. But people harboring pain, needingsomeone to take a risk on them, in need to know the Redeemer…a risk to love, totouch, to carry light to them. By us. For us. Light is brought. Christ has brought. And shadows are redeemed. With such carriers…God is pleased to use…ones who fear…and risk…ones who love…andare broken.… For you…for me… May we carry on.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Just because it's beautiful

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Momata and Apurna dressed up for Saraswati Puja

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lookin hot with side ponytails!

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love the blue eye shadow

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Sari Blanket

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The first face of SARI BARI

So Sari Bari is a week and a half from starting it's first training and yesterday i spent some time with who i hope will be the first face of Sari Bari. She is the first face of Sari bari for me. She is why and for whom Sari Bari will exist. Her name is "Asha" and she is 20 years old and was sold into the trade by her brother in law when she was 12 years old. She is a sweet and beautiful girl who has no idea of her value and worth because all she has even known is that she can never do anything else. the freedom that sari bari will offer, is for her. She is my reason along with a thousand other reasons that we will start Sari Bari. Her story is the story of everyone who will find freedom through not only another job but the start of new life. A life in which diginity and respect are offered instead of cursing, a life of hope and restoration instead of destruction. Her life has so much value...i told her that yesterday. i told that she has so much value and is worth so much. My prayer is that she will come to the introductory meeting on tuesday this week and then make the choice for something better...not an easy choice but utlimately a choice for freedom!!

A little update

The last month has been overfull with amazing things. We are overwhelmed with the ways that we are finding community, the ways God is using us to love, serve and offer freedom to the women of Kolkata¡¦s red light districts, and the ways that we are just plain old having fun! I love being here. I am know i am in the right plave doing the right thing. This is going to be a little long but please read on because it is just soooooo good!

The first good and amazing thing is that we will are starting, I guess I should say finally starting Sari Bari. For those of you who do not know, Sari Bari will be a employment opportunity that will offer the women and girls freedom.

Sari Bari exists to provide women caught in the sex trade in the red light areas of Kolkata, India freedom by providing alternative employment and income. Sari Bari Imports (USA) markets and distributes the handmade textiles of Sari Bari India in the minority world while educating and empowering consumers to join in the pursuit of justice and redemption on their behalf.
The name "Sari Bari" comes from two symbols: a sari is the traditional clothing worn by Indian women. In India, saris represent the essence of womanhood. The word "bari" in Bengali means "house or home". Our hope is for Sari Bari to be a safe home where women, who have been exploited in the sex trade, can have their dignity as women restored. By providing a way out of selling their bodies, we believe that these women will have the opportunity to find healing and freedom and to experience the Jesus in a tangible way.

The women will be paid a “fair” wage that will sustain them and their families. Eventually, we hope to be a “fair trade” organization but until we will be seeking to follow fair trade pratices.
Sari Bari has been in the dreams and visions of our community for some time now and the dream will become realized on February 20 when we start our first training. The women train three days a week or a month or two and then they will be hire full time. We will have our first interviews this coming Tuesday and hope to see 2-5 women make the choice for freedom. We will be starting in a different red light area partnering with another organization. We will share space with this organization and work with their girls but this is just the starting point we hope to see production units in all of the city’s red light areas…offering hope, dignity and freedom to the women so long hidden and held down without a way out.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you want to be involved by offering us some of your business expertise!! We have a USA distributor so we just trying to get all the details ironed out.
Second in the amazing catergory is that we are continuing to see girls come out of the trade and freedom and hope with our friends in another buisiness project. So far 9 women have left and 7 are still moving forward into deeper transformation. The most recent girl left yesterday and started her first day---we are so excited—check my wmf co worker kristin's blog for more on her story

And the third and final amazing thing this last week is that we might have finally found an apartment—no only a place to live but a place that could meet all our needs and the needs of Sari Bari in Sonagacchi which is only delayed by not having a place for it as we have so many women interested. It is actually a 2 story building with 8 rooms and courtyard. It is very poor and run down—actually only has a water pump in the courtyard—not running water in the house (we can fix this  don’t worry). It actually is very similar to a brothel which strangly enough is exactly what we want…and the landlord will allow the women to come into the building. It is in poor area and we would be able to live with those who we are seeking to serve. The building has so much potential as a place for Sari Bari, a place for us to live incarnationally and be safe—but only a five minute walk from the gach, and it has the potential to be a half way house for some of the young girls coming out of the trade. Please pray, pray, pray for this and for us as we meet with the landlord this coming week on the 15th. We having been waiting and praying for something like this and this really seems to be the right place.

Oh and the last thing is that we are having a lot of fun…fun being with the girls, fun doing literacy training with a business that employs the girls, fun having an eighties party and then a swiss national party—yes these things do happen here check out the eighties party pics!! I mean the side pony tail is about the best we can do with what we have as far as costume goes with a little blue eye shadow !

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bono: National Prayer Breakfast..just some excerpts

National Prayer Breakfast, Washington D.C

February 3, 2006

So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate - in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn't a bless-me club... it wasn't a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions...making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.

But then my cynicism got another helping hand.

It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called AIDS. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The ones that didn't miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children...even [though the] fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.

Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself judgmentalism is back!

But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.

Love was on the move.

Mercy was on the move.

God was on the move.

Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet...conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on moms and quarterbacks...hip-hop stars and country stars. This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!

Popes were seen wearing sunglasses!

Jesse Helms was seen with a ghetto blaster!

Crazy stuff. Evidence of the spirit.

It was breathtaking. Literally. It stopped the world in its tracks.

When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened - and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even - that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying...on AIDS and global health, governments listened - and acted.

I'm here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.

Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places."

It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.

But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.

'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.