Last week, I journeyed back to India. I rarely ever go back to the same place twice. Call it the curse of wanderlust… always yearning for new, different, exciting places to visit/experience.
So, being given the opportunity to return to India and specifically to Bangalore, where Daughters of Hope is located, turned out to be an incredibly enriching experience.
Last year, I visited my friends at Daughters of Hope. I shared the story of Daughters, and even some stories of the women there. I believed in the company and the mission before visiting, and walked away even more impressed with the work.
This year, however, I was able to see with my own eyes the physical transformation of this good work in one woman, AD, and her daughter, K’s faces. It was an unexpected, but honestly mind-blowing experience. I mean, I have heard the stories, some from the women themselves. But this time, I saw what inner transformation happens to look like on the outside. It’s something I am not likely to ever forget.
Last year, AD and her children had recently joined Daughters right before I came out. She was beautiful. But hardened. She looked like she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her children did, too. Her story was just one of a billion heartbreaking ones out there. Married off at 12. Drunkard of a husband. Three kids that only reminded her, daily, of her lot in life. When she came to Daughters, she was very disconnected from her kids. She did not care for them properly. While I was there, her daughter, K, had gotten too close to a candle at her home and severely burned her eye. Her mother did nothing about it. My friends at Daughters took them to the hospital and oversaw K’s care and treatment, while trying to teach her mother how to care for the needs and emotional state of her children. This mother rarely smiled, her daughter mirrored her pain and heaviness.
This year, I walked around a corner to see this precious, beautiful woman laughing and playing with her daughter. Her daughter mirrored her smile and warmth this time. They were not working it for the camera. This was straight up reality. I froze in my tracks, so caught off guard by the transformation before my very eyes. I teared up talking to my friends about it that evening.
Mother and daughter were wearing matching outfits.
Matching outfits, folks.
(I know these are somewhat blurry… these aren’t portraits, just candids trying to capture on film what I was seeing in real life.)
This speaks volumes for a woman who could have almost cared less for the welfare or even lives of her children a year ago.
Here are her children today. Beautiful, beautiful children growing under the love and care of a transformed mother.
Her life is still a mess at home at times. Every few weeks her husband gathers up all their clothes and burns them outside the house. Just because he can.
So, she sews new clothing fairly regularly. And she makes matching outfits for her daughter and her.
This is transformation.
This is the power of a loving, safe, caring community. This is what a year of being taught about dignity and worth and purpose looks like.
Social enterprises like Daughters aren’t just about fair wages. It isn’t just a job. But it starts there. It starts with telling and showing a woman that she is loved, valued and capable of so much more than she has ever dreamed. And then proving it with a paying job. It continues with loving care, counseling and a safe community to run to when life is hard (not i-can’t-find-a-good-parking-space-at-target hard, folks).
Please find a company like Daughters to support. These women need people like you and me to believe in them by creating a market for the goods they make. Let’s cheer them on with our purchasing choices and power. Let’s stand with them in the process of their transformation.
If you are looking for other products than what Daughter’s offers, please check out the following companies that I can personally vouch for (and for a more exhaustive list, check out this page):