“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.” – Amy Tan
My niece is turning 11 next month. She’s taking piano lessons and learning viola, she studies in Spanish and English, dances ballet and is on a basketball team. She’s gaining maturity but still a sweet child. Maybe you know an 11 year old too. So you will share my horror imagining an innocent, young 11 year old being sold to a brothel by her relatives nonetheless. Eleven year olds are full of dreams, the world seems infinitely full of possibility. So how do you dare to dream if so much is done to crush your young spirit.
This is why one of our artisans inspires me so much. Her relatives sold her into sex slavery at 11 and she didn’t escape until she was around 30 years old, five years ago. Many women never escape. Others escape with a hardness to them, and you can almost see their past on their face and hear it in their voice. But this one, her pain and heartbreak I know are there, but she has embraced hope and joy in a way you notice immediately. She proudly tells us, “I got a new life here.”
This year, as Bangladesh imposed a lock down in response to the rapid spread of Covid 19, the brothels were locked. The residents couldn’t leave and no one could enter. There was no income for those inside. Friends of Basha partnered with other NGO’s to provide food for those inside. Our artisan accompanied staff to visit the women held captive where she too had been for so many years. She was able to show them first hand that it is possible to escape and forge a new life!
She’s stitching away on beautiful kantha blankets and saving money every month. She recently married a man who supports her, surrounded by her friends from Basha. With her encouragement, one of her friends from the brothel is now in our Friends of Basha training programme.
Most of us can’t imagine the bravery needed to so radically embrace a new life. At Friends of Basha we are honoured to walk alongside women who so courageously embrace a bright future, and in this case, help others make it too.