the human spirit

what would you be willing to fight for?

i learned a great lesson today from the most incredible women in the slums.

we have some lovely people visiting us from the board of directors and operation council, and were asked to introduce them to our partners, and show them around. as we toured the different slums, the women from the community were told that we were there to meet them and learn from them. dressed in their most beautiful sarees, equipped with jasmine flowers lining their hair, and with nothing but absolute resolution in their eyes, the women gathered waiting for us to hear their stories. some waited as long as four hours to meet us, but mostly to have their voices heard.

one at a time, individual women came to share their personal stories. stories of migration. stories of wanting to learn to read just so they could check their childrens' homework or just so they could figure out how to get home from their daily manual labor jobs (riding a bus is difficult when you can't read where it's going or where it came from). these beautiful women dressed in every color of the rainbow were each as individual and unique as their sarees. not one was like the other, yet their stories had a similar thread: one of persecution, struggle, and fighting for their rights. they were all individuals with souls and beating hearts, with great difficulties in their life, yet their biggest one was being recognized as a person.

the government did not recognize them individually or as a community. countless times they'd been driven out of their homes or had them bull-dozed. the police force refused to give them government-issued ID cards so that their rights couldn't be heard if they didn't exist. how could a group of individuals have a voice if they were considered invisible?

yet, these "invisible" women came up with a brilliant plan to make themselves heard. they came together and decided to grind up the spiciest chili powder they had so that the next time they would be ready for when the police came. they prepared little packages so every woman could have at least a fist-full of chili powder, distributed them, and waited patiently. these women had had to wait for many other things in their lives, so this was a walk in the park. before long, the police came to drive them out, and as soon as they were close enough they threw the powder! the police retracted, and they were not only able to get their ID cards but also able to call the land their own, and have built themselves a wonderful community.

their resilience and perseverance taught me so much and begged the question once again: what would i be willing to fight for?

1 comment:

Viviana said...

Amazing stories. They remind me of the stories in Chile when I was growing up so long ago.