The Rise of a Bright Future

Excerpts from the March 2022 Newsletter

“What a joy it is to be back travelling in India! The diverse landscapes, ancient and mystifying temples, mosques, monasteries and colourful festivals speak volumes about the rich heritage of the country. I am ecstatic about the scrumptious food that bursts with flavours and mesmerized by the powerful spiritual vibration that envelops this captivating place.” 

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A long-awaited journey

This month we are delighted to share intimate updates on the state of affairs on the ground in India. After a prolonged delay amidst global health challenges, Wendy is finally back within the vibrancy of India and has already been swept away by the outpouring of love and excitement to have her there!

The people of India believe in “Atithi Devo Bhava” meaning: the guest is God’s own reflection

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Building trust in rural communities

Our work on the ground in India with Meera and Sakhi Kunj often involves visiting the local communities, spending time with our women in their homes as well as travelling to rural villages to meet their extended families.We visit the entire neighbourhood, village and surrounding locals, stopping at each house for a cup of chai. We are warmly and curiously greeted by the many Indians who have never met a foreigner or have an understanding of English! 

While this is a fun and engaging experience, it is also important work. It provides an in-person confirmation to these communities that we truly are dedicated to supporting their well-being and success. It allows the women to trust Meera when she tells them about Sakhi Kunj’s partnership with Divineya and gives our organisations more credibility in the eyes of the larger community.

Because our target communities are so interconnected with tight-knit family bonds and structures, there is often hesitance to readily trust ‘outside’ ideas and influences, such as notions of gender equality or female empowerment. This is particularly apparent in the protectiveness and control of the women and girls, which is why it is so crucial for us to establish trust and accountability in these relationships.

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“It warms my heart to be so lovingly welcomed by Meera, her family and the women of Sakhi Kunj. Upon my initial meeting with them, I witnessed the trepidation in the women’s eyes, having awareness of the hardships they endured during the past 2 years of pandemic circumstances. It is evident in their communication, gestures and emotional vulnerability. We spent several days together revising designs for our handmade products, putting plans in place for implementing programs and training workshops, and within a short time I began to feel from them a strong sense of enthusiasm, optimism about the future and renewal of self-worth.”

~ Wendy

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Encountering the after-effects of Covid-19

Returning to India during the aftermath of the pandemic puts into perspective the difference between our experience with Covid in Canada and what Indians have endured. There is certainly a lack of awareness of certain privileges in the west, such as the luxuries of accessible healthcare, availability of medications, vaccines and the ability to social distance.

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“In 2020 when I came to know about Covid-19 and its bad effects on seniors and people with pre-existing health issues, I became concerned for my mother. Unfortunately in May 2021 she was infected. At that time, there were no beds available in hospitals, the situation was very dire. All family members came together and decided to serve and save our mother. 

We began treatment at home on the recommendations of Dr. Vinit and our area administration supported us to find medications as many of the injections and medicines were not available or very difficult to get. Treatment, support, blessings and prayers thankfully worked and our mother recovered after 18 days.

However, she still has side effects of Covid, such as fatigue and often fever. I am thankful for the donations from Divineya Society supporters and the opportunity to provide to our community during such a challenging period.”

–Meera Arya, Sakhi Kunj founder

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“It was a very difficult time for doctors and for citizens. There were thousands of deaths, healthcare providers felt helpless. We lacked the resources to deal with such an uncontrollable illness, and too many people were infected. We had so many patients, we didn’t even have time to show sympathy to patients’ families.”

– Dr. Vinit, (Medical Officer) Outpatient Department Government of Delhi Hospitals

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The rise of a bright future

However, as Wendy spends more time with Sakhi Kunj, our women’s resiliency, determination and hope shines through the negativity and illuminates the darkness that Covid brought with it. We are all eager to usher in a new day, and what better way than by celebrating the beauty and creativity of our talented women!

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