My Girls

There is a square cut in the drab gray carpet of the conference room exposing a tangle of purple and white cords.  The walls of the room are off white – deliberately or through age, I know not which.  The expanse of off white is broken along one wall by a row of large windows overlooking undeveloped dusty lots, weeds, and distant urban roof lines.  A row of chairs circles the entire room, with a few tables at the back.  Our training room is not glamorous, but it is more than adequate, and has the luxury of having AC.  Sajji and I are early today…or so I think.

As soon as my kickpad-laden backpack hits the ground, the double wooden doors open and a single ‘Good morning, Didi’ is followed by a quiet chorus of ‘Good morning, Didi,’ and a flood of young women enter the room.  Talking, hands flying in gestures, some eyes looking directly at me, taking me in, others hesitant and shy.  The girls.  My girls.  Every time I see them, I am overcome with a feeling that I can only imagine accompanies a mother’s first glance at her newly born child: a deep connected-ness and awe that they are the most beautiful beings on the planet.

The 15 or so girls vary in size and physical traits.  Their skin ranges in shades from coffee-with-cream to deep tan to almond white.  The young lady who is almond white comes from the north, and her beautiful hooked nose and mountains of wavy hair do little to distract a person from getting hypnotized by her gorgeous large doe eyes.  She is frail, and we have been told that she is relatively new and is struggling with her post traumatic stress.  She has made unlikely friends with another young lady new to the program, who seems to be as round and dark as the other is chiseled and light.  This second young woman wears her trauma on her sleeve, so to speak:  she throws herself into the pads in wild attack.  It is palpable how much she wants to fight back, now that she can, now that she is free from the place-that-must-not-be-named.  Her attacks are often too wild, which results in glancing blows or pads missed altogether.  We have allowed her this period to vent, but are now beginning to help her hone her technique to be effective.  It is greatly satisfying to see her hit the pad with solid blows.  Just last week, she came into class with a scour draping her face.  I almost cried yesterday to see her scour lift and her unguarded moments shine in bright flashes of a smile as she completed a drill.



  1. john said,

    December 25, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Your descriptions of what your experiencing is very touching to say the least. Your legacy will always live on. My prayers are with you.

  2. Dianne said,

    December 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Reading your blog always moves me, Belle, whether it brings a smile to my face or a tear to my eye. Usually both at the same time. Be safe, my friend! You are saving lives!

  3. Belle said,

    December 28, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Dianne, you are amazing. I don’t know if you’ve been following us on FB, but we are, when all is said and done, going to have reached 140 girls this trip. Truly, your support makes this possible. So undying gratitude in your specific direction, my Dear.

  4. Robin said,

    January 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Belle, I can imagine that these little young ladies will be your children in your heart forever. The “second one” as you say – you are setting free the burden of her trauma to be strong again. I am sure it is hard to leave them all of them for they will be a part of you. . Bless you my friend.

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