Wow. This is all happening so fast.
Ten days ago my dream of going to India to have a literal, physical hand in helping break the cycle of poverty and slavery was just that: a dream. Well, I think I’m about to wake up. It could very well be my reality soon.
For the past several years I’ve been in contact with Monique Shaw, a God-inspired woman who works with the victims of sex trafficking in Kolkata, North India. We’ve been thinking about how to start up a small business to provide sustainability for the women who want to break the cycle of slavery they’re victim to, to leave the brothels. It’s been a really tough slog with many obstacles and setbacks. Though Monique’s doing fantastic work there, offering hope and freedom for these women on a daily basis, the plans for the business seem to be on hold. This part of my dream remains a dream. At least for the time being.
Where this dream is slowly becoming a reality is in South India. Trichy City to be exact. Here’s the condensed version of what’s been happening: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with Melissa and Tim Heerebout, here in Toronto. Melissa and Tim are part of an organization that hosts Culture Pubs throughout the city, showcasing local artists (bands, visual artists, jewelry designers, non-profit businesses, etc …) and raising funds to meet specific needs both within our city and abroad. Melissa is a jewelry designer and had the privilege of going to India several years ago. She has remained in contact with Marimuthu Muthu from her host family, and was recently invited back to teach approximately 100 women in the slums of Trichy City to make jewelry. The plan is to eventually start small jewelry businesses so the women can be empowered to support their families and thus transform the economy and well-being of their communities. Since women play the most important role in their communities, the empowerment of these women will help break the cycle of poverty in Trichy City.
And I’ve been asked to help launch this project! I can’t tell you how absolutely thrilled I am! We’ve started planning and praying and researching, and as the days go by I’m getting more inspired and motivated and excited.
As is the case with any new venture, especially one that requires travel abroad, funds are a very present and immediate issue. So we’re wracking our brains to come up with some creative fund raising methods and events. One such method will be selling a signature silver bracelet – made by our own jewelry design team – that represents hope and freedom. These will be made available for purchase at the Culture Pubs and online soon.
We’ve also launched SAFFRON BANYAN, the name under which the eventual jewelry business will run. SAFFRON BANYAN has a blog, facebook page, and twitter account that you can follow to find out the latest information as it becomes available.
My hope is that this opportunity will open doors in Kolkata, too. Marimuthu Muthu’s vision is a big one: to eventually reach beyond the walls of Trichy City; to have an impact all across India. And by the grace of God I believe it can be done. There are so many injustices in the world. So many that it is overwhelming and our efforts can often feel defeated even before we begin. But if everyone does what they can do, with what they have and even from where they are, it wouldn’t take long to see a global change, a visible shift towards the healing of this broken world. In fact, that shift is already in motion in many places, among many people groups. It may take a quick Google search to find some evidence, but it’s out there.
I hope you join us on our venture and follow along as we partner with Marimuthu Muthu in creating that shift in Trichy City. We’ll keep you updated as often as we can and we invite you to leave comments wherever you can. It’s always so wonderful to know you’ve got support and the enouragement of friends when you’ve got a long road ahead of you.