Friday, March 22, 2013

Time Passes so Quickly

It is hard to believe that we are already over halfway through our internship with Maitri.  I think we both agree that, though lifetime in India is not sufficient to understand its intricacies,  the opportunity to expose ourselves to its elements, for only a short time, has been a life altering experience.  
During the past few weeks, Maitri has been preparing for three major events:

Arrival of Dr. Ulf Kristoffersson
The Chair of Maitri India, Dr. Ulf Kristoffersson, arrived this month in order to witness the progress that Maitri has made in the last year.  The entire office staff coordinated together in order to create a detailed presentation, which enumerated both the successes of Maitri’s projects over the last year, along with the next phase of action.

Bhoomi Pooja
In Vrindavan, Maitri has acquired a new plot of land, which will be dedicated to housing over 100 abandoned and destitute widows.  After construction of the new “Maitri Ghar” is complete, this home will become a place where the widows can feel secure and dignified during the final years of their lives.  However, before construction can begin the land must be blessed by means of a proper Hindu ceremony.     Over 200 widows came to participate in the ceremony and Dr. Kristoffersson played a critical role in the dedication process.  The colors, sounds, and smells were the most striking elements of the ceremony, and the spiritual devotion of the widows was particularly touching.
Following the Pooja, we distributed midday meals to the widows along with brand new sarees.  It was truly a humbling experience to serve these women.
National Seminar to End Violence against Women
Maitri recently hosted a consultation where professionals from various sectors of society came together to discuss the pressing topic of violence against women in India.  The sessions conducted during the two-day event touched on important topics such as: the global response to violence against women, concerns for medical practitioners and psychologists, the role of police and media, and comparative perspectives concerning violence against women.  Concluding the Seminar, Maitri launched a million-signature pledge entitled “Count on me.”  The campaign aims to engage men and boys in the fight to end violence against women.

This consultation was both meaningful and relevant following the tragic events of the 16th December, 2012.  We were both so glad to be a part of this event and to see first-hand the social changes occurring in India.    

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