Below is a collection of Holly's experiences and thoughts throughout her trip in India.
We enjoyed seeing some of Delhi today. The sights and sounds and smells are overwhelming. We visited the presidents home, a temple, local parks and shopping stalls. The reality of poverty was everywhere. The begging children following us around was the most difficult part to take in. Our Indian friend shared that often what they make begging goes to someone else and to give them money, which breeds child labor and more begging. Creating sustainable work for their parents so they don't have to beg is the goal of Trades of Hope and why mike and I are here.
We had an amazing day today. So much to share. My heart is full. So many God moments. We visited two slums where people have nothing monetarily. No running water or bathrooms, dirt floors, and most don't have electricity and whole families share one room but they welcomed us with boiled tea. Their homes are not legal but they're all they have. They can't read or write but adult education is being offered and slum schools have been started and Gods love is transforming their lives! They are praying we will help with a sewing program.
My blonde hair scared them at first. I let them all touch it. We had lots of giggles over the fact that I looked like a ghost to them. This is in the slums of India. They have nothing. This a free school started by a dear pastor and his wife. The homes are usually one room. No bathroom. no electricity. Such poverty, yet such joy! Can you feel it?
We were blessed to visit the artisan group that makes a few of our necklaces. Babe giggles at seeing the products she makes in our catalog and asks if she can be in the next one as a model. She is 27 and a widow with two young children. She is so grateful, as are all the artisans, for steady work. She supports her family because of the sales of these Trades of Hope products. She says, Thank you to all those who make her life better for her children by buying her products through Trades of Hope!
We visited another school in a poor area that Trades of Hope has a hand in providing. I'm so proud to be helping these students get an education. Education changes everything. When you can not read or write in India you are destined to being vulnerable for being exploited and used.
Each day brings new lessons for me and more tears. Today we visited the most vulnerable of all people. These beautiful men and women are either physically or mentally challenged. Without groups like this these men and women would most likely be beggars on the street corners and be targets for exploitation. I was blown away by the genuine love of those who help create jobs and a better life for the "least of these." As you can see from the pictures these challenged artisans love coming to work to make our jute bag and they make natural paint out of crushed flowers and other recycled products. You Can tell this is "home" for them. They feel among family and have a place they belong and earn a fair income, thanks to the sales of our Compassionate Entrepreneurs! Please know the difference you make! The deaf women hopelessly tried to teach me Indian sign language. Lots of laughter and fun. Some are blind and others are mentally challenged. You could feel the pride as they each showed me their products and their role in making it. Such innocent love! All are valued by God and Trades of Hope. We are honored to have a dignified partnership with these artisans. Feel free to share.
I saw God in action today. He is up to some life changing things through Trades of Hope. As I shared with each group that they are also helping American women (and men) have jobs and that we are honored to partner with them, I wish you could have seen the pride and even tears. It was incredible! It's a dignified partnership and they feel it! They are so grateful for their jobs which are provided by sales from their beautiful jewelry through Trades of Hopes compassionate Entrepreneurs. They send their love and appreciation!
Another busy and emotional day with women artisans in Kolkata India. We were greeted with flowers and such extreme joy. I'm overwhelmed by how hard their lives are here. And feeling so guilty for having little understanding for the hardships that face most of the world that I was oblivious to. The bathroom situation here is crazy. Nothing is convenient or makes sense to our American minds. For example Our hotel room number is 1604 on the 5th floor but you get off on the 3rd floor but you push 4 on the elevator. I cannot begin to explain how different it is but their chaos makes sense to them. So many street people and children. So many people vying for jobs but there is never enough so poverty is everywhere you look. I'm so grateful for the many opportunities I've had in my life and now so grateful to offer opportunities through Trades of Hope to others here and in India! Enjoy your bed tonight. Enjoy your hot shower. Be thankful and give back.
Okay I'm not going to lie, I can do without peas and baked beans for breakfast. And boiled milk so the bacteria doesn't kill us! Lol Heading out to meet more Trades of Hope artisans. This trip Has taken us behind the scenes of what even most Indians don't see. Not sure my heart can take more but we have 3 more days of slums and artisans and I will choose to continue to see the hope among heartache and rubble. And choose to make a difference.
This beautiful young woman, Pooja lives in the slums in Mumbai India. She and her brother, mom and other sister sleep and eat on the same floor. The ladder leads to her home. This is her kitchen. No bathroom or privacy. My heart ached to know my walk in closet is bigger than her home and she is thankful for it. She's in college and recently started working part time to make jewelry for Trades of Hope. She now sees a way out! She is funny and reminded me of my adult daughter. She has hopes and dreams and Trades of Hope is making those dreams come true.
Keep up the great work Compassionate Entrepreneurs! Pooja says thank you for partnering with her to have dignified work that helps her go to school! Thank you so so much for all those Compassionate Entrepreneurs and customers. You are making a HUGE difference in their lives. I wish you all could have been in my suitcase.