Viking at heart

In honour of the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I will have a series of blog posts celebrating my kind.

Celebrating her. Post #2 of 5

I raise my hypothetical hat to all the women that have stayed true to their inner voices, followed their dreams and fought for what they believe in.

When a woman so desires, she has the courage of a lion and the heart of a viking!

Palmira, at age 40 was flung into the role of mother, father, confidant and photographer. She was suddenly the only one to bring home the bacon. 7 young ones (from 6 months to 17 years) were fatherless overnight and she had to step up. She put aside her grieving heart and took to the lens- in the 1960s when a woman was far from welcome in what was then an almost exclusive men’s world. Irrespective of how little she had, there was always enough for a hungry stranger or a cousin in need. More than 40 years later, Palmira finally bade farewell to a teary family and a lifetime of good deeds. She left behind a legacy of love and photography.

Sara (name changed) a senior Syrian anesthesiologist had had enough back home. She took the toughest decision of her life and left behind a husband and two young ones. The refugee route was a sure shot goodbye to security, family and peace. Yet, the end of the road promised a far brighter future. Out set Sara on foot, by boat, by road and 4 months later, she entered Germany. The passion this doctor puts into her work is unbelievable. However, she admits that even in her most peaceful moments her mind is a raging beast, torn between two worlds. Sara must ace the difficult medical exams in German, land a job and only then can she hope to finally reunite the broken pieces of her heart.

Veena (name changed)  went through a horrifying marriage and domestic abuse. A woman of many talents, she studied law, taught in a school and opened her own beauty parlour. Life deserved to be pretty- inside and out. She used her creativity to finance a project for destitute women.  Through Veena, rape and abuse victims get justice, rehabilitation and a new chance at a better life. Today her organization has grown and helped thousands of troubled women. After a second marriage went sour, Veena didn’t lose heart. She found peace in her work.  Collecting shells at the beach and taking long drives in her car always did her wonders. At 71, she is a whirlwind of energy and looks not a day over 50.

Despite all they went through, I am sure these women had the power to simply put their feet up at the end of the day and say, “I am a warrior and I believe in me.”

Their secret? Rumi knew it centuries ago, “Wherever you are and whatever you do, be in love.”

I am honoured to be Veena’s friend, Sara’s german class colleague and Palmira’s granddaughter.

#sheisprecious #internationaldayofthegirlchild

 

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RAZIA

In honour of the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October 2016, I will have a series of blog posts celebrating my kind.

Celebrating her. Post #1 of 5

Little Razia bares her shiny teeth and her eyes gleam in the harsh sunlit shed she calls home. Chocolate brown skin shimmers as she prances about tossing that head of silky hair to the mercies of the afternoon wind. A picture is being snapped of her sister and Razia rushes in to share the frame and attention of a curious stranger.

Their innocent smiles send daggers into my heart. Of joy and of fear. Joy for the natural liveliness and beauty they radiate and fear for what might wipe away that gullible innocence.

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(Pic credit: Lyanne Fernandes)

For starters I’m grateful they are alive. Plenty of female babies do not see the light of day. Plenty translates into over a million unborn female children being aborted in India every year.

The girl child is often one that is forced upon the downtrodden path. Whether infant or adult, her potential is nipped in the bud way before she can test her wings and fly.

A lady might find herself trapped in the cruel fangs of a male-dominated society. When and if she finally breaks free, she’s scared, scarred or worse; dead.

The National Crime Records Bureau in India puts forth chilling statistics.

Here’s the top 5 atrocities against women in India:

  1. Cruelty by husband/relatives
  2. Molestation
  3. Abduction
  4. Rape
  5. Dowry death

A 2010 study in New Delhi showed that 66% of women experienced and reported sexual harassment between 2-5 times in the past year.

A 2013 statistic reports an average of 92 rape cases a day. That’s 4 every hour.

One crime against women is reported every two minutes.

Crimes in India are grossly underreported. Need I say more?

Maybe these figures strike a personal chord with you or maybe they don’t.  But why wait until we’re burnt to educate ourselves about safety?

No matter how big or small, we each have a role to play in ensuring that the girl child, born or uborn, 7 or 70, – in India and the world over, gets the love and respect that is rightfully hers. She deserves a fair shot at life.

Let’s do our bit to spread awareness, stay vigilant and work for a safe world, where little Razia can dream big, run free and evolve into the person she wants to be.

#sheisprecious #internationaldayofthegirlchild