Save Our Sisters

Tuesday was the first of my classes in Mumbai, and I made the trek from Kandivali West in the north to Bandra Kurla in the south by tuk-tuk.  My driving experiences in India leave me with the feeling that margins of safety are non-existent, and this ride is no exception.  It is filled with bumper to bumper jostling and mad dashes in front of oncoming traffic while exhaust fumes seem to coat every cell in my body.

An hour later, I arrive at Save the Children – India which offers the program Save Our Sisters.  There is a nice sized playground area, the space is open, and people and children mingle in the corridors and stairways.  Many programs are housed here, including those for special needs (deaf and down syndrome) children who are wearing green school uniforms to make them readily identifiable to an outsider such as myself.  After an introduction in an air conditioned(!) office, my program contact, Jyoti Nale, leads me to the fifth floor to meet the ladies.

Save Our Sisters young women are older than the ladies I have taught previously in Bihar, their ages ranging from 17 – 22.  They have ended up in Mumbai from all the corners of India from which they were trafficked – Bangladesh, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, even Bihar.  When I enter the room to meet them, I am barely given a second glance as they are huddled over a jewelry making project.  I wait as they carefully conclude their work.  They pull white t-shirts over their shalwazs, and then turn to me.

The first thing I do is to shake each and every one of their hands, and say, ‘Hi.’  They are not really sure what to do with this, and the dark brown eyes that look at me show curiosity, doubt, even dismissiveness.  But that soon changes as I raise my arms up overhead and wiggle my fingers.  Eighteen young ladies wordlessly follow.  Without saying a word, I curl my fingers into my palm, and wrap my thumb across the front of the fist, and 36 fists are high in the air.  Our classes have begun.

By the end of our hour together, the girls have learned the basics of a proper fighting stance, how to walk confidently, how to make a fist, how to make a hammer fist, how to hit with a hammer fist, what are the strong parts of a woman and what are the weak parts of a man.   As I stuff my pads back into my pack and white t-shirts are being removed, the air in the room has changed, a spark of excitement cast its energy across everyone.  It has been a wonderful first class, and I look forward to the next.

For more information on Save Our Sisters, visit their website:


  1. Mnamna said,

    April 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Nice work lady, keep it up 🙂 Looking forward to hearing the stories first hand when you get home.

  2. Benn Dominguez said,

    April 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    It is great to see you there helping those girls build confidence and strength in their mind. The world should have more people such as yourself to help and travel to those in need.
    When i think of what you are giving of yourself i thought of this biblical phrase (changed “He” to “She”, “His” to “Her” and “Brother” to “Sister”) ~ Blessed is She who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for She is truly her sister’s keeper and the finder of lost children.

    You’re doing a Great Job – You ROCK !!!

  3. archana said,

    May 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    hi. I salute ur desire and commitment to SOS….I m proud to share that i hv bn a part of this wonderful initiative for 3 years….
    I m thrilled abt the fact tht this initiative hs been identified n taken forward for making the young girls respect their own strength.
    Though every new day must be a question n a challenge….the best part is tht thy wud surely take in wht is theirs.
    I wish to personally thank u for this.
    regards n good luck.

    Archana Rao

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