Chandigarh remains a vivid memory of mine especially our visit to a women’s shelter. A few pictures cannot adequately describe the emotional reaction to seeing and hearing of the plight of these women (plus two little girls living there with their mother). To give you a sense, I chose these four pictures and will tell you a little about each one. The women introduced themselves to us (as we did to them). The lady in blue and pick appeared to be very shy and quiet, perhaps even in shock, and yet she did make it through the introduction.
The two little girls were doing what children do all over the world — vying for a turn at an object. Imagine what a novelty the camera was to them. Compare it to the very young photographers we see every day in the United States, who completely take the camera/cell phones for granted. The teenager in the picture with the little girls had yet another sad story. She is 16 years old and has neither a mother nor a father. In other words, she is on her own in life. How wonderful that she is in the safe arms of the shelter.
In the lower left picture, look more closely at the little girl’s right hand. How has that hand become so distorted and lost its pigmentation? I’ll let you think about that.
The last lady, pictured with me, was longing for human contact and warmth. She put her arms around several of us and just held on – not saying a word – looking up at us with those soulful eyes.
These images and narrative provide a good sampling of our Go Eat Give visit to the women’s shelter in Chandigarh in November 2014.
Although the shelter’s matron (she called herself the “warden”) referred to the women at the shelter as “inmates,” I came away from our visit feeling cheered that this small group of women and children have found a refuge and safe harbor where they live in modest, close quarters, receive assistance in resolving their (mostly) domestic situations, and show a fortitude beyond my ability to comprehend.
Click here to make a donation for Savera women’s shelter in India.
~ By guest blogger, Elizabeth Etoll, a retired IBM executive who lives in Atlanta, GA. She visited Cuba and India with Go Eat Give in 2014.