By Mary Esten Brown

It was only Day 2 of our trip and we were already having one of the most influential experiences of our lives. The livelihood group got the extreme privilege of going to see the SEWA organization. SEWA is a women’s education center with a beautiful purpose – to give the women of India the chance to be independent, and help regain control over what they rightly deserve, education, and the equal opportunity to make a living for themselves and their families.

Walking up the stairs, we were greeted by singing and all of the women throwing marigold petals at us. “Namaste, welcome! Welcome!” They placed a dot of Tilak (a red powder) on our foreheads. We were given the opportunity to hear their stories and listen to their struggles first hand. Understanding how these women go about their day-to-day lives only enhances the learning experience further. They told us about their parents, and what they did for work. We played games, drank chai, and learned some important Hindi vocabulary.

This organization had a contagious attitude of positivity and resilience. The strength in which these incredible women face their problems everyday just to fight for their education is something absolutely incredible. I admire their tenacious attitude to better their lives. These women are taking the initiative to earn an education in which they rightly deserve. SEWA does so much for these women; it really changed my perspective. Living in America, education is something we don’t have to wonder if we receive. Education is something guaranteed, but for these women, it’s a privilege in which they have to fight for. This visit made me understand how important it is to value the little things in life, to value the things which seem so normal and expected, to be eternally grateful for what you have, and learn to never take it for granted.

5 responses to “Courage”

  1. Dave's Mom Avatar
    Dave’s Mom

    Excellent post, Mary! I’m so glad you have realized one of life’s great lessons… never take anything for granted and be eternally grateful for your blessings. Happy travels…

  2. Ing Kiland Avatar
    Ing Kiland

    Beautiful pictures !!!!!

  3. Katie Kreider Avatar
    Katie Kreider

    Awesome, MEBs! Thank you for sharing your insights and observations. It is wild to think how education can be such a privilege when the place that we live is also where we learn. When you return home, I encourage you to continue thinking about education especially where we live and in the United States in general. Not everyone at home has the same experiences as you all attending Christchurch. Also, you should read Educated by Tara Westover!

  4. jbyersccs Avatar

    This is what these trips are all about….gratitude and connections. Seeing the rest of the world for what it is, in all its beauty and, at the same time, harshness. Letting the experience shape our thinking and being. Well done, MEBS.

  5. Lauren Little Avatar
    Lauren Little

    Thank you for reminding us Westerners to not take for granted education for women. I forget that in so many parts of the world this is only a privilege for men or for the very wealthy. The ability to rise above poverty and flourish is inexplicably connected to education for women, especially in the developing countries. Women do it all – cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and often earning a living for the family. What a wonderful opportunity for you and the women of SEWA. Thank you for sharing!

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