Over 150 women and a handful of children sat together in the center of a restored apartment complex that opened up into the skies of Kolkata, India. A few white foreigners were scattered about the crowd of women dressed in beautiful Saris, while children were laughing and playing in the middle of the circle. Soon,the purpose of the gathering became clear; today we begin our work together with Chr!i$t. Each morning this is the way my work begins it's day; in prayer, in the Word, and singing Bengali praise songs.
All the women, children, and volunteer staff from all over the world gather to "do business for freedom" says the our logo. Some of us sew, others cut burlap, others process paperwork (like myself), while still others bring weary workers a mid-day chai. But we all work together for freedom from the sex-trade within Kolkata's largest and most notorious red-light district, called Sonagachi. It's hard to imagine in the midst of all the joyful smiles and kind greetings I encountered today, that these women come from harsh lives of abuse and sexual exploitation. Some were trafficked and others were forced into prostitution by poverty. But all have received the opportunity to work towards freedom now. And this is where I will spend the next 6 months (at least) working for and alongside these women. Today I realized that this is the beginning of a very beautiful thing.