As I step out of the car and enter into the Calista Resort located in Kapaskheda (New Delhi), I was experiencing deep silence in my heart, a strange sense of peace prevailed. I was going back to the space which had stirred me, questioned me, put me in a vacuum and facilitated me to understand that I can also question! That time I was struggling with my own self, the kind of work that I was engaging to and yes my everlasting struggle with organizational and social structure. But today, I was invited to facilitate a session on “Community work on Sexuality: Sahas” at Sexuality, Gender and Rights Institute organized by CREA. I don’t really have words or any other expression to share how immense this opportunity was for me and for Sahas!
Walking towards the reception, I was surprisingly welcomed by a familiar warm voice; it was Pratima ji, one of the few women who really inspire me. The session was about to begin and again a surprise- this session was facilitated by none other than Kiran Deshmukh, who works for Sangram and VAMP (Sangli) . It was one of the eye opening session last year which overwhelmed me and helped me understand the importance of passion and right intension for the work that we want to work ahead! Nothing has changed this year- I love her confidence, openness and her strength. In between, I met Pramada ji, she hugged me, showered me with all her love :-)
“I am so proud of your work, and you must be proud of your work too but at the same time you should remember that there are many women who are doing amazing work along with you. You need to be aware of this and this would help you work ahead”, says Pramada Menon
Every time I meet her, I only learn more and more, and my love and respect for her increases leaps and bounds. Coming back to the session, the questions and the language used by the participants baffled me and put me on a thinking mode. Why so many questions were asked? Is it because besides being an activist, she is a sex worker? Or is it because it seems utopian or alienating for women to believe that a woman can break the structures/boxes of social structure, enjoy and use her sexuality for earning her living? Isn’t it better if we question ourselves that why are we still bound by the structures?
The second session was facilitated by Pratima Kumari Paswan who is doing amazing work in the villages near Patna, where she facilitates adolescent girls around gender, sexuality and caste through the game of football. Through her incredible personal story she shared about her work, target audience and the challenges.
“Dukhon ka cement, peeda ki eentah, anubhav ke paani
Ko sangharsh se joda gaya hai”, Pratima
The three resource people who facilitated the session before me talked about the work that their organization is doing, their respective targets and the challenges, however my session was way different from them because my struggle began with the conflict from the organization structure!
I was getting tad nervous and anxious before my session, i would be sharing the space with the facilitators who have years of experience in the field of Gender and Sexuality. The chit chat and happy leg pulling helped me shoo away the anxiety and I was all set to undergo the transition from the participant to the facilitator :-)
It was beautiful and surreal to be able to share journey of Sahas, our intention and passion to prevent Gender based violence and how without any structural support we are able to pull of this dream! The session and question-answer round ended with loud round of applause. For few minutes I couldn’t believe that I have done it :-) honestly this feeling would take time to sink in.
“Your story is so powerful and the way you spoke about it was even more beautiful. It was truly inspiring and keep doing this work, “says Shalini ji.
“It was so inspiring to hear you. It seems you like something you do it, like this…this and this and when you don’t like something you challenge it! I am doing a project on the same line, I had lot of struggles and I was disappointed but now after hearing you I am pumped up, I will keep doing this even if I don’t get funds for it, because it’s important not just from project’s point of view but also for me!” shared one participant.
It was indeed the biggest Ahha moment of this year; it was like coming back to the school as Alumni :-) My heart felt gratitude to CREA, Shalini ji and Pramada ji firstly for giving me an opportunity to be a participant at 10th Sexuality, Gender and Rights Institute in 2016, then supporting us with our work and finally having me back at SGRI in 2017 as resource person.
I am just immersed in the beauty and happiness of this moment :-)