we foster & ignite connection with purpose
Alexis Newton, Sarah Davison-Tracy, Dr. Anne Dondapati Allen + Dr. Ginni Ishimatsu

Alexis Newton, Sarah Davison-Tracy, Dr. Anne Dondapati Allen + Dr. Ginni Ishimatsu

 

Several weeks ago, I was delighted and honored to participate on a panel following the screening of the remarkable film, Driving with Selvi, organized by The United Nations Association of Denver.

Many beautiful and powerful RIPPLES
have emerged to share.
May they inspire and ignite you this day.

 


Quick Glance.

{This post is so full of connections and stories, we have included links directly to the spot in this blog post where you can read more about each of the 4 numbered items below.}

  1. Launch of Driving with Selvi Campaign for Social Action.  Last week, we connected with the extraordinary Elisa Paloschi – a soul sistah, the director of this film and president of Eyesfull Productions.  In India right now, her team is launching their compelling Driving with Selvi Campaign for Social Action with a local and global reach – check it out…maybe you’ll want to be a “Selvi Ambassador”? :}

    Driving with Selvi (Elisa-Selvi-shoot)

    Elisa {director} + Selvi {storyteller}

  2. Kula Quotes.  Our Seeds kula represented en force at the Denver screening of this film and I have included their powerful voices of how  Selvi is continuing to impact their journeys.  May their stories connect with yours and invite you to your own “YES” this day.  May you discover what you need:  courage, creativity, joy, trust and MORE.IMG_9689
  3. A glimpse of the stories + areas of work of our impassioned and extraordinary virtual panelists.  What made this experience all the more amazing was that I was able to create a Seeds of Exchange virtual panel composed of our incredible kula {community} working and living in India and Nepal to share their voices.
  4. Upcoming Self-Defense Class with Andrea Fuller.  Colorado friends, as mentioned at the film and panel, we are going to offer an event for women and girls cultivating greater physical security {“self-defense”}, strength, voice and empowerment.  Email us for more information.

And, dear ones, if the epic needs and realities of
abuse, child marriage, injustice, trafficking, oppression and violence
that exist in the world threaten to overwhelm, be gentle with yourself.

Take a moment…BE still, breathe and feast on this story:
When darkness overwhelms, a message of HOPE.


{1} Launch of Driving with Selvi Campaign for Social Action

2 Driving with Selvi (do you like me)Film synopsis.  Selvi, like so many girls in India, is a child bride in a violent marriage. One day she escapes, and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the ten-year journey of a charming, strong, and courageous young woman who defies all expectations, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create a new life.

From Elisa {film director} and her team:  “Film has a powerful ability to inspire change, shift attitudes, and create social movements. With this in mind, the Driving with Selvi social action campaign will build on the narrative of the film to support women and girls’ resilience, self- empowerment, and economic opportunity in the face of patriarchy in India.

Driving with Selvi is not just a film – it’s also a robust social engagement campaign.

Now we need your help to make sure the film has the biggest impact it can on audiences – particularly in reaching and women and girls in India.  For more information about the campaign or to schedule a screening, please contact us. We are running a crowdfunding initiative to raise funds for the campaign.”

IMG_9700

Launching in India at this very moment, the campaign will include:

  • a ten-day kick-off bus and media tour in South India with Selvi at the wheel to inspire conversations about gender violence and non-traditional livelihoods for women and girls,
  • a grassroots screening tour to show the film to one million viewers in rural and marginalized communities,
  • a school and NGO program to ensure the film, and accompanying educational guides in multiple languages, are made available for free to organizations serving these communities, and
  • initiatives to support young women through education, training and scholarship opportunities in non-traditional livelihoods.

Driving with Selvi Links.  facebook | twitter | latest news | website | email

More than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.
250 million before they turned 15.
One third of these child brides lives in India. – UNICEF


 {2} Kula Quotes.

“Dear Selvi. You showed me the resilience of the human spirit when you took each day as it came to you. You were your own mother. Your mother was hardened and did not show you care or love. In that deep well of pain you built up a feisty, determined self to protect your soft middle.

6NrIUQNFBlTbk_xLZq-mxq71LPWGDv0Od5wWJ8My_gw-770x450I Ioved your girlish ‎giddiness as you shared about your husband, Vigi. Your eyes sparkled…as if you always kept that hope deep down that you would meet him and love him and muster that trust you built inside yourself from a cracked and broken childhood.

You are lighthearted like a butterfly. There is a time in your life that is unspeakable, and when asked about that dark time of unthinkable abuse you simply say, ‘Ask me something else.’ ‎You alight on the mornings of your life with a carefree nature that is compelling and infectious. You smile and laugh and I go there with you. It is just the laugh and the silly moment.

I see you turning the enormous wheel of the bus, as it stretches and intimidates space across your lap and am inspired…your soft skin and eyes, colorful, silky clothing floating about as you sit strong and you command the moment.

You command the wheel. Looking forward. Moving forward. Driving forward. Life. Forward movement. Quiet strength.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg-1You were given such opportunity and freedom through learning to drive and you earned your own respect through your bravery, through moving forward without hesitation, with your humor to lighten the mood and to breathe differently…you learned to talk to people. You taught yourself to talk with them through the rhythm of the road and your hands grasping the chunky steering wheel, your van dodging the frenetic roads. You allowed the people, your passengers, your community, to know you, to experience your pride in driving and the life-giving energy it brings you…the respect it lays before you from the men who are drivers and accept you as part of their group.” -Kelly

“Driving with Selvi filled me with several thoughts and emotions. I saw the film as powerful, beautiful, encouraging, and sad.

I love how Selvi was able to find her inner strength and make a choice to escape to find hope and happiness. She is an inspiration to all!

It opened up my eyes to the injustice that plagues children and women all around the world. I had some insight into child marriage, but the alarming statistics on the prevalence of child marriage was disturbing.” -Jen

“I learned a great deal about Indian culture and society while watching this film. I also loved how the men in her life supported and encouraged her after she left her marriage. It took tremendous courage to do that. This connects with me and the fortitude and resilience it took for me to leave my marriage, despite having my own career, it took all I had in me to go through with it.  I was completely inspired by her resilience especially in a moment of near giving up completely. She brought JOY to every situation, and uplifted others.” -Caitlin

Selvi’s story could very well have been my story.  I was inspired by her courage to live and to prove that she is worthy.  It’s what keeps me going everyday.  There is so much pain and hurt in my life right now.  However, because of Selvi I know I have a reason to smile everyday.  I’m here, alive and somebody cares. –Sheila

Selvi and her daughter

“I was inspired by Selvi’s strength and courage at such a young age and in the face of adversity and not having family of origin support. She went forward anyway and changed not only her life, but impacted the lives of those around her. And, she is starting a new pathway for her daughter!  Amazing woman!” –Andrea

“What inspired me most about Selvi’s story is the reminder that no matter where we are born, we all share the same heart. Our dreams, hopes, fears and desire to be the best version of ourselves…these feelings are universal.  Selvi’s courage and strength are a reminder to me to be courageous. And this shared courage connects us.

Every time I use my voice, I lend support to Selvi’s voice. And vice versa. Her voice, her story, enables me to speak. It compels me to speak.

Together, both of us, must speak for our sisters and brothers who are still not able to use their voices.” -Amy


{3} A glimpse of the stories + areas of work of our impassioned and extraordinary virtual panelists:

  • Anna Garriot, former project director + Victoria Sanjenbam, director of The Khushbu Project. We are committed to seeing women, men, and children in Zamrudpur in New Delhi, India, equipped in education, advocacy, the arts, and vocational skills to be leaders in their community. 
  • Grant Knisely, founder of Code Red Films. Our tagline is “taking risks to tell the truth” and our mission is to illuminate extraordinary individuals and organizations who are taking risks to combat the worst vices on the planet. Code Red produced a powerful film, Untouchable: Children of God, about the sex-trafficking of Nepali women and girls.
  • IMG_9694Lima + Malika Aklant are founders of a greeting cooperative of women in Hyderabad, South India. Malika creates beautiful pen and ink drawings and the co-op women add stunning color using plant and vegetable dyes. The income generated from this endeavor opens doors of possibility for dignity, educating their children, and food and shelter security. Email us if you’d like to place an order for the next shipment of cards. $4/individual card + $14/set of 4 cards.
  • Raju Sundas, founder of LightHouse Foundation in Nepal and in the brothels of New Delhi, India. We foster education and health care among the poor and orphans in the country. We are engaged in fighting injustice and sexual exploitation especially among the Badi people in Nepal, an ethnic group who live in poverty in West Nepal. They are Dhalits, “Untouchables of the Untouchables,” in the Hindu caste system and are considered by many to be the most marginalized group in Nepal. Most of the women and girls are forced to sell their bodies to earn a living from a very young age and are vulnerable to sex trafficking and exploitation.
  • Udaya + Shalome Bhatta, father-daughter team in this remarkable, community-based organization in Nepal. This extraordinary family is compassionately responding to the needs around them through creating and running children’s homes, community-based initiatives and women’s business training and empowerment programs in Kathmandu and West Nepal.

{Although not able to participate in this virtual panel, each are friends and part of our Seeds kula [community] working in India:}

  • Jaimala Gupta, co-founder of Vatsalya in India. Vatsalya has undertaken projects and interventions throughout Rajasthan. We have a unique Children’s Village on the outskirts of Jaipur where 60 orphaned, abandoned and destitute children live. In addition we have outreach programs which attend to the needs of over 800 children in slums every month as well as significant interventions in the fields of Health & HIV-AIDS & Women’s Empowerment.
  • Hakan Gabrielson, founder of Out of Ashes. Where life has ceased, hope has gone and nothing is left but ashes, there is still hope. We exist to rescue and restore girls and women from sexual exploitation, forced prostitution and slavery. Working in the brothels and communities of India, Nepal and Myanmar.

Below are some of the questions we posed to our virtual kula panel.  A harvest of the responses, stories and wisdom is here: Selvi – Kula Virtual Panel.

  1. What is your perspective and personal connections/stories about the history of child marriage?
  2. What types of other jobs are being taken on by women very recently that had previously only been held by men – and is it a national dialog or largely ignored? Do these women have trouble and if so, what? Are there groups helping them?
  3. Did you hear about the street protests after the rape of Selvi and other women in India and Nepal?

 {4} Upcoming Self-Defense Class with Andrea Fuller

Colorado friends, email us if you’d like to be contacted with information about an upcoming event we are creating in collaboration with the amazing Andrea Fuller for women and girls cultivating greater physical security {“self-defense”}, strength, voice and empowerment.

Andrea is a mom, a business owner, advocate, self-defense and fitness trainer, and the founder of “Stay Strong Girl.”  She started the group as part of her vision to empower girls and women, help them find their voice, and create a community to believe and support them in staying strong.  A fighter and a survivor of life challenges, she trains in Krav Maga (6+ years), teaches CrossKick fitness classes, while working on the issues of poverty, hunger, secure housing, human rights, and helping female survivors thrive post-abuse and/or sexual violation.

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