To Live With Dignity

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I was stunned! at a loss for words and above all I was humbled. She walked up the school driveway escorted by the school band and with folded hands she greeted everyone around her. She was small in size and clad in a simple blue saree she briskly walked up the path where she had walked more than forty years ago. I could scarcely believe that I was welcoming the CNN HERO for the year 2010!

I looked at her and thought how amazing she was. Few have had such an impact on the lives of young girls and women as this demure lady. I stood there, transfixed, with bated breath. Waiting patiently till she gave me a huge warm hug. I felt my heart beat faster as I looked into her loving eyes and all I could mutter very nervously was….”Welcome Home Ma’am Anuradha Koirala!

Many of us may or may not have heard about this modern day ‘Angel of Mercy’ called Anuradha Koirala. She is a crusader and brave fighter of a very noble cause…TRAFFICKING OF YOUNG WOMEN AND CHILDREN. Her vision to fight against this heinous crime was an uphill task but it was her determination and strength topped with immense courage that saw her dream come true. Today, through her organization, Maitinepal, she has successfully saved and rehabilitated thousands of young girls and children.

I do not wish to write about her organization as one can easily surf the net (maitinepal.org ) and every detail about her work is available for you at the click of a button! I would like to share the impact that her words created in the hearts of many young girls who witnessed her presentation and listened to her beautiful message. Most of these young girls were moved to tears after they witnessed the most horrible scenes of the young women and girls who were being trafficked all over the country. These young girls all said….” Oh My God! How very fortunate we are to have everything in life and above all how lucky we are to have a HOME to come back to any time we want to and also to have a loving family waiting for us!”

Yes indeed, we agreed with them that we are so fortunate to be so loved and wanted.The ‘Rajni’s’,’Roshni’s’,’Indu’s ‘and the other nameless girls who had been rescued by Anuradha were the unfortunate ones. Their lives had been scarred, trampled upon, torn apart and degraded in the worst sort of way…some of them, never to be normal or even live to see a better day! Most of us, agreed that we had often heard about this universal crime of trafficking and Ma’am Anuradha unveiled the bare truth on the screen for us.

Tears flowed down shamelessly as we listened to horrible, detailed stories of these young survivors. I cringed as I saw these young women being treated so inhumanely by fellow humans. People all over the world make such a hue and cry about Human Rights and yet we have countless humans among us who are being denied the right to live like humans! Do we deserve to hold our heads high and proudly talk about living in a ‘civil society’ when deep down somewhere in the dark, society is not doing anything civil for these unfortunate victims.

The youth are given to us to be moulded gently and carefully with intense love. So, are these unlucky women and girls. who fall prey to trafficking, not a part of the youth? Ma’am Anuradha’s words ring out clearly…she asked us…”What would you do if your daughter or sister was trafficked? “I felt a cold shudder run down my spine as I kept asking myself… “What If? ”

I learned the true meaning of the word ‘Love’ and selfless giving on that day and so did the hundreds of young girls who were with me. Our hearts wept for the young women and girls who are still trapped in the ugly world of sex exploitation….’Youth’ is the age to bloom and blossom, it is the time to live life to its fullest and here we have these young people whose lives have been nipped at the bud and many of them face a bleak future where escape seems next to impossible!

I returned home after my day with Ma’am Anuradha, a changed person. Flashes of those horrible images kept haunting me… broken bodies, scarred and burnt skin and above all those mentally torn and shattered minds and hearts. I cried silently for all the victims. Some people choose to make a difference in life, others chose to stand idly by…do ask yourselves which path do you choose as a youth. You have so much to give the world, make a difference in your own little way and use whatever you have to help stop trafficking…I quote Ma’am Anuradha here..” Let us help fight against this heinous crime and help the survivors to live and die with dignity!”

To this most precious human Ma’am Anuradha I say…..You won The CNN Hero award for 2010 with a million votes but for me you are The Hero of all Heroes! Your sincerity, dedication and humility is a source of
inspiration to the youth of today. The survivors who live with you are an example of grit and hope for all. God definitely could not be everywhere to save the youth and that is why he sent you to handle these
precious souls with loving care and above all to help them to live with dignity!

Eugenie Sitling

The author is a Lepcha, born and brought up in the picturesque town of Kalimpong. Studied in St Joseph’s Convent and later at St Bede’s Shimla, she has been teaching for the past 24 years and has enjoyed each moment of it. She is a lover of creative work, especially loves writing and is also crazy about music. A single parent with two awesome sons, bringing them up alone has made her stronger. She loves football too. Her parents have made her what she is today and she specially loves the person who supported her in all her ventures.

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