This post was written by one of our supporters, Eva Chayet, who had the chance to visit 2013 Humanitarian Honoree Triveni Acharya in India. Triveni is an anti-trafficking activist who has rescued more than 4,000 children from brothels. During her visit, Eva met girls who were rescued and saw how Triveni is giving them renewed hope for the future.
My name is Eva Chayet, a La Jolla, California resident for the past 30 years, during which time I have also owned and operated a travel agency. This has given me the opportunity to see many corners of our beautiful and complicated world. For years I was against visiting India as I had a mental image of a poor and unattractive country. Little did I know that just a few years ago India would become my love, my passion and my call in life.
I have now traveled to India seven times in the last few years, and have scheduled to visit next year and plan to do so for many years to come. Every time that I return home from India it takes me a while to return to the normality of my life — not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. With me, I bring a feeling of unease and helplessness at the inability to change the ugliness that I see on the streets of India.
In November 2013, at the World of Children Awards Ceremony, I met Triveni Acharya. That is when and how I was given an opportunity to do something about these feelings. Triveni was chosen as the 2013 Humanitarian Award Honoree. I was very impressed by this small, soft spoken, middle-aged and kind woman who had the power to change young women’s lives and she became the example I was searching for to give a purpose to my return trips to India.
That special evening I promised Triveni I would visit her on my next trip.
Two months later, my promise became a reality, and there I was being driven to the Rescue Foundation, carrying clothes, medicines and other necessities. I also carried with me the brand new laptops that were donated by World of Children Award to the Rescue Foundation. Getting to the Center is a bit of a drive. Its location is in what appears to be a low-to-middle class neighborhood of Mumbai. It is about an hour and a half away from the tourist areas of the city, yet just a few minutes away from the major slums which are in gross contrast to the sparkling new international airport nearby. The Rescue Foundation is located in an unpretentious building with the entrance blocked by a security gate with a small slit that allows the guards to see who is coming in.
To see this type of precaution was a bit nerve wracking. Of course, after learning that Triveni’s life is threatened on a daily basis by the pimps and organized crime lords she fights every day, I understood the reason behind such security.
The day I visited with her was inspiring, humbling and incomparably meaningful to me. Triveni and her foundation support hundreds of young women that have been taken off the streets under dangerous and perilous efforts. The smiles with which these girls welcomed me to their now clean and safe environment brought a tremendous amount of joy and peace to my heart. My life seemed surreal in comparison to the harsh reality that these young women faced before Triveni’s help.
I saw some of the girls being trained in different arts and crafts which would give them the knowledge and skills to support themselves once they leave the Center. Others were being taught how to use computers. They eagerly and immediately put to use the laptops that were donated by World of Children Award. Some of the women were in an instructor-led class where they were being taught to read and write.
The facilities were obviously well cared for by those living there. This was apparent in the impeccable cleanliness of their dorm-like rooms. The kitchen was impressive with bulk-sized pots and pans and many utensils and they were preparing enough food to feed over 100 people. This food is prepared solely by volunteers and residents. I saw three babies being cared for by their mothers and am sure that the fathers are either unknown or unfit. Additionally, I met the accountant and also the person in the legal department that is in charge of filing cases with the prosecutor’s office to get the victimizers of these women off the streets.
Everywhere I looked throughout my visit I saw a picture that I will never forget — the display of love, care and respect that Triveni showed to the young women and seeing that reflected in them.
I can’t wait to visit again and do more to make a difference in the place I love so much: India. I am planning to bring 20 ladies with me on my next trip to India in February 2015. We are all looking forward to visiting Triveni’s foundation and the opportunity to learn what we can each do to support and assist the Rescue Foundation in bringing these women tools and help toward a better future.