Last day with the girls at the homes, which was sad but also a really great day. We went to Liluah again first and spent the morning and early afternoon there. At first we handed out their pictures that we had cut and pasted on paper to fit the frame. They were so excited about them, and lined them up and just looked at them. I don't know that they ever have had a picture of themselves before and it was just such a small thing that could even be done for them. After that we did some more stuff with them. They split up and one group worked on making cards and one group made bracelets with beads. It was nice to get to just sit down with them and work on something together. I guess it shouldn't have been all that surprising but they were so good at both of the crafts. They were still doing them when we left...and we left all the stuff that we had taken there. They probably had enough beads and string to make jewelry for a year. From there we went straight to Mahima. We had a shorter time there because Vic called us on the way and asked if we wanted to ride down to Sonagachi with them. I definitely wanted to do that and so that meant we had to cut out time short at the other home. Once we got there we ate lunch (excellent indian again) and then made journals with the girls. It's humbling to see how much joy they get from doing something that I would find just ordinary. Such is life I suppose. We left the pictures there for the girls to put them in the frames and headed back to the office so we could meet the others.
Once we arrived back to the office we piled 9 people into an SUV (driver, James, Jay, Julia, Vic, John, Voratida, Catherine, and I) and headed on our way. I was in the very back, like in the trunk part lol. I got to talk to some of the other interns who were super nice and it's always so intriguing to me to meet other people and to hear their stories and how they got to be in Calcutta, especially from all over. I could go on about that for days though. The Sonagachi area is the red light district and is about a 500 meter stretch of road off the main road where approximately 6000-10000 sex workers are at any given time. Vic stopped the car before we turned on the street and put a camera in the headlight of the car to do some investigative work. We weren't stopping or getting out of the car or taking pictures. He showed us where 2 main Nepali brothels are and then there were girls standing outside of the other brothels as well. There looked to be some girls who were underage or borderline. There wasn't a single one smiling or looking happy to be there (for obvious reasons). When we slowed down and got to look inside of some of the alleyways, we saw a man paying a girl. It's weird because there were few differences between that street and any other in terms of people standing around and a lot of noise and loitering, yet the presence of the girls and their clothes were a big giveaway. It's also one of those things where you don't really want to think about it, but something that I made myself do...for purposes of this trip, and for my own interest. I want to remember the girls faces and not have it be something that is just abstract or a statistic. So that was pretty much it on the street and we headed back to the office.
Once there we walked back to the hotel and debriefed in our room. It was good to hear about the men's day and to tell them about our day and just share how we are feeling and what we have been experiencing. Then Julia and I went to see her friend Kushboo at her house. Julia had gotten her some presents from the states and needed to give them to her. She was beyond excited!! We went to their "other home" which was essentially a larger able to be locked room like the other one. So very crazy how people live!! She was so excited about her presents and of course her parents were there and gave us some mango soda and then some coffee. They offered chips but we turned them down because we felt bad about it. After that little adventure we came back to the hotel for the night. Since we stayed up till 2am last night we are trying to go to bed earlier tonight!!
Tomorrow the training starts and Julia and I have some things that we need to get done around town so we will be heading that up! More to come...3 more days!!!