Another day, another long bus ride to our Partner Kolkata Sanved. First let me say that every time our bus embarks on a road trip in these parts, we are a complete spectacle. The word TOURIST, in caps about 1 foot high, is plastered across the windshield of our bus. We are driving on the same road as men pushing carts, bicycles, scooters, cows, goats, dogs and pedestrians. We are indeed a rare sight in the rural communities we are driving through. Mix that with the fact that about 1/2 of the group are blondes, and it is a total WOW factor. We are tantamount to a UFO, complete with aliens, driving down anywhere, Main Street USA !!!!
We arrive and meet the beautiful and inspirational women of Kolkata Sanved. We were all guided through a Dance Movement Therapy session, (DMT ) that a girl who had been recently rescued would go through. We experienced first hand the transformational power of DMT. DMT can heal and empower the victims of sex violence to be bold, confident, advocates for themselves.
Kolkata Sanved has implemented a “Training of Trainers” or TOT program, which empowers victims to acquire the skills to have a career as a DMT teacher, enabling them to integrate back into mainstream society.
The TOT girls escorted us to the red light district to show us how they work with the at risk children at the Apne Aap drop in center. This is a different red light district than the one at Bowbazar, but no less dark and scary. The poverty here is ineffable for me to express, but this is the only reality the children here know. We walk up to the open roof area of the building. Both the TOT’s and the children were so eager to to show us their routines, and once again, the polite and proud ritual of the children introducing themselves is so heartwarming and endearing.
Not 5 minutes into the routine came loud aggressive Hindi screaming from the neighbors, telling the group to be quite. It was frightening. The children were un phased by the abrupt ending to their show, which to me , was the saddest thing, as it was clear that disappointment and disempowerment is the rule and not the exception in their experience.
Kolkata Sanved believes that all individuals, from marginalized and mainstream populations, should live with dignity and self-respect. This basic sense of empowerment and integrity is achieved through their DMT program.
Kolkata Sanved has had great success using DMT as a modality to heal, empower and rehabilitate survivors of trafficking and violence. Transforming Steps in London, 2012. Kolkata Sanved launched an international campaign in both Kolkata and London called “Stand with Survivors of Sex Trafficking, Stand Against Exploitation”. They collaborated with Sadler’s Wells, a world renowned theater, and Living Lens, an organization utilizing video as therapy for the survivors of human trafficking. Together they raised awareness around sex trafficking through the creation of a film starring the Sanved dancers as they performed at the famous venue of Sadler’s Wells in London. The film was screened across London prior to the Olympics in 2012.
Kolkata Sanved also received the prestigious “DVF Award” The Diane von Furstenberg Award for Transforming the Lives of Women in March of 2011. The Award ceremony took place at United Nations, at the Women in the World Summit. This award gives recognition to those who are using their resources, commitment and visibility to transform the lives of other women. These are women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.
Kolkata Sanved has also won the Beyond Sport Award 2009 in the “Best Project For Health” category. Kolkata Sanved’s flagship programme “Saving Lives Through Dance” has emerged among 265 projects from 40 countries.
If you would like more information on Kolata Sanved please see the Partners and Projects section of my blog.
Abolish 21st century slavery.
With love and gratitude