Monday, August 3, 2015

Lessons to Last a Lifetime

Ten weeks ago I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom playing Tetris with everything that needed to be stuffed into my suitcase for India, worrying about the bugs, the beggars, the dirt, the danger. I would never have imagined that today I would be returning to the United States with more clarity on the strength of my inner power. Never did I think I would be able to haggle for a better price on a scarf, never did I think I would be able to stand my ground when change was miscounted, never did I think I could endure the sweltering heat of New Delhi in the summer. But not only did I learn about my personal strength, being in India this summer interning for Maitri, I’ve gained a better understanding of my career goals as well. 

I wanted to work for a nonprofit humanitarian organization that served the needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I hoped to one day establish my own such agency that not only served physical and legal needs but also mental health through esteem-building workshops. To better understand the needs of women, I needed to understand their plight and therefore understand their lives, understand their position in society, in their homes. Thus came about my project to better understand the perspectives of married men towards sexual violence and their opinions of marriage. I learned a lot about men's perceptions of a woman's role in the family. Maitri has helped me get one step closer to my goal of becoming a resource for women in need and understanding what it takes to address sensitive issues like domestic and sexual violence. 

Not only that, I am most grateful to Maitri for giving me perspective on the inner workings of a nonprofit organization, the central crux being a passion for your work. I’ve met some of the strongest women at Maitri; women who live to challenge the ingrained beliefs of patriarchy, women who have a piercing voice against the notion that a woman should be silent. But what I’ve found to be most touching at Maitri is that it is truly a family. Whether it is eating lunch together or catching the newest Bollywood movie in theaters, Maitri is held together by a thread of love and support. And I feel honored to be able to say that I too am connected by this thread, forever connected to some of the greatest people who are working everyday to provide all with identity, dignity, and respect.   

Rebecca Miah
MPH Candidate 2016
Hubert Department of Global Health
Rollins School of Public Health | Emory University

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