WELCOME TO The Seeds Storyteller Series in which I’ll be talking with two soul sisters, Anjali Tamang and Sarah Symons about their work as anti-trafficking and human rights activists, their daily practices they cultivate that help them navigate the rigors of this intense work and the ongoing stressors of the global pandemic, and about the (POWERFUL) book they just published. Let me tell you: You are in for a treat!! I believe that as you listen to their inspiring and powerful stories, you’ll find a bit of your own and learn something about the world and your part in it.
ABOUT our storytellers:
Sarah Symons is Founder & Executive Director of Her Future Coalition whose mission is to fight slavery with shelter, education and employment programs that enable survivors and high-risk women and children to remain free and independent, forever.
Anjali Tamang is director of Freedom and Hope Nepal and visionary behind the now-being-built Hasta Memorial School in Nepal, a teacher and college student, a young mother and wife, a sister and friend, a woman of faith, an advocate for the poor and vulnerable. She stands for love. She is a member of the Tamang community of Eastern Nepal. And, she is a survivor of trafficking to India at age 12.
WHAT you can look forward to in this conversation:
STORIES TO INSPIRE your own ways to make a difference and serve others with love in your everyday life.
DIG DEEP AND LEARN about some of the root causes of human trafficking and what can be done about it, together.
A BEAUTIFUL STORY of how 2 women from opposite sides of the world became a mother-daughter dynamic duo, have fostered a creative collaboration resulting in a just-published (and INCREDIBLE) book, and are partners in a passionate fight as anti-human trafficking activists in Nepal, India, and around the world.
HOW TO FIND PEACE AMIDST STORMY DAYS – Anjali and Sarah will share some of their daily practices to still the noise and cultivate peace.
NUDGES to consider of inspired ACTion:
- COLLABORATE! …FORM A TEAM on GoFundMe and help us raise funds for a special occasion or celebration … or just because you want to! (Contact Sarah Davison-Tracy for info or to set your team up.)
- ASK FOR A DONATION to be made as a gift for your next birthday … GIVE a gift in honor of someone you love for an upcoming holiday or celebration.
CONNECT with, follow, and friend our team Hasta Memorial School in Nepal | Her Future Coalition – Facebook & Instagram | Seeds of Exchange – Facebook & Instagram & 7 ways to join the fun so you can be inspired & ignited to make a difference locally & globally, together
SHARE this link with 5 PEOPLE to inspire others to fight human trafficking, increase educational opportunities build our global community. Let’s see how we can EXPAND this organization’s community connections!
- WATCH … “The Day my God Died” (trailer here or view below), “It Takes a Girl”, about HFC’s work around the world bringing freedom and a fresh start to survivors of human trafficking (link here or view below), Sarah Symons’ Ted Talk on Living Heroically (link here or view below), and my deeply inspiring and informative conversations with Sarah Symons (link here or view below) and Soma Seal (director of HFC in India) (link here or view below).
- READ … “Standing in the Way” by Sarah Symons, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick, “Sex Slaves” by Louise Brown
MORE from our inspiring storytellers …
Before our Seeds Storyteller Series livestreams or premieres, I always ask our storyteller a few questions. We don’t always get to these on our livestream, so here are some of my favorite nuggets from Anjali and Sarah. I hope it inspires you and you find a bit of your story in theirs. You are most welcome to connect with them via email here.
What’s your “why”? Share a story of your organization’s impact of a person or community.
From Anjali: “I am an anti-trafficking activist, a teacher and college student, a young mother and wife, a sister and friend, a woman of faith, an advocate for the poor and vulnerable. I stand for love. I am a member of the Tamang community of Eastern Nepal. And, I am survivor of trafficking to India at age 12.
God gave me one dream to open a school to protect children and fight against girls trafficking in my village. I believe firstly that it is God’s calling for me.
I also believe in the saying of Nelson Mandela, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ and in the words of Victor Hugo, ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison.’
School was and is my dream. When I was a child, I dreamed to go to school. When I got in school, I dreamed to build a school. I understood the beauty to be in school for knowledge, existence, and future. I dreamed about village children becoming different professionals creating source of hope for their family and society.”
From Sarah: “It is our greatest joy as an organization to see our girls growing up and becoming powerful advocates and changemakers in their own communities.
Despite the violence and devastation of their past: Anjali is opening a school in her village so that the next generation of girls have an alternative to trafficking. Sonali is our Associate Program Director and helping others to heal and thrive. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree while working in our goldsmith training program. Priya and Lakkhi are leading a group of teens in the red light area on an environmental education and culture change project.
Saba is in her final year of medical school and soon to become her community’s first female gynecologist Gulafsha is the photographer for a nonprofit in her slum community. Sara is a registered nurse working with refugee populations. Shambu is in design college and opening a training institute for survivors in Kathmandu.
Mona Lisa, Deepika, Dipa, and many others are mothers passionate about making sure their daughters get a good education. Loki and Doni are veterinary technicians providing care to injured and abused street dogs and cats. Each one of these girls, and many more, is a daily reminder of why our work is important and effective in the world today.”
Given the current impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, how is your life being impacted? Share a ROSE (something blooming) – a BUD (something new/good happening) – a THORN (something challenging/painful/hard).
From Anjali: “ROSE and BUD: the pandemic gave me the gift of time, to write my book and to begin seriously fundraising, and finally to begin construction on my school to prevent trafficking in my village. THORN: I gave birth to my son in the early days of pandemic. Everything was locked down so instead of having a circle of sisters around me, it was just me and husband alone in the hospital. That was a little disappointing.”
What are 3 words that give you hope when days are tough?
From Anjali: “Jesus. Love. Mom.”
From Sarah: “Possibility. Justice. Resilience.”
What inspires you?
From Sarah: “Survivors from my community who are moving forward with their lives, despite huge challenges. They did not all receive the huge support and help that I received, but each in her own way, they are moving forward.”
From Anjali: “My faith and the circle of sisters around me.”
From Anjali: “If God is for us, who can be against us.” -Romans 8:31, in the Bible
From Sarah: “If you call and no one answers, go anyway!” -Rabindranath Tagore
What is 1 thing you’d like to TEACH/INFORM participants during our time together?
From Anjali & Sarah: “Trafficking has its roots in poverty and the low status of women. There are root causes. It doesn’t just happen randomly. And there is a LOT we can do to prevent it.”
Is spirituality an essential part of your life, your work? If so, share a bit about HOW your personal faith influences and/or empowers your everyday life.
From Anjali: “My understanding of God unfolded slowly. The girls in my home would pray every day. They didn’t use specific words. They just said what they were feeling. It was very informal. No one pressured me to pray, or taught me, ‘Pray like this’ or ‘Do that”. People used the prayer time to share their feelings as well. It was like group therapy, with God.
As the days and weeks passed, I saw the extraordinary love that these people had. They weren’t perfect, they made mistakes. But they were guided by this love and light, and they always came back to it. They believed and they lived what Jesus said about showing your love for him by loving other people, especially people in need. I was drawn to that love. I wanted to learn more about it.
I didn’t make a decision suddenly to become a Christian. There were a lot of prayers and crying for many years. Slowly I realized that God had been walking beside me all along. Then I took some classes and learned more.
My faith journey wasn’t smooth or easy. I was always crying, and asking God, ‘Why did this happen to me? Why did you let my father die? Why did my mother neglect me? Why did I get trafficked by my own people? No one in the village ever even told me it was wrong’. My prayers were mostly me crying at first. But as I grew in faith, learning about God’s love.
I learned that even though these awful things happened, God loves me. God was working through all these people to get me out of that situation.”
What inspires you?
From Sarah: “My girls in India and Nepal! The circle of sisters and brothers that have walked with me for 16 years and continue to support the work. Yoga, creative arts, nature.”
What is 1 act – big or small – you’d like to encourage folks to do?
From Sarah & Anjali: “Learn more about the issue of trafficking, and notice when a girl is vulnerable. Use your voice to speak out.”
During our conversation, Sarah spoke about Minu, a dear friend and part of the Her Future Coalition sisterhood. Here is a bit more about Minu…
From Sarah: “Last week we lost one of our own. Our Community Organizer Minu Chetri passed away from tuberculosis. TB is very common in red light area, where Minu lived for much of her life. Minu was a beautiful soul who brought light, hope and a much-needed sense of humor to everything. I first met her in 2006, when she was working at a partner organization in Kolkata. She went on to work at a different organization, and then we were lucky enough to recruit her for our team, where she worked for the past 18 months. Minu organized the sponsorship group session for HFC in her locality and offered her home as the base. She also coordinated and led our COVID emergency food distribution in the red light area.
Minu originally came from Nepal. She had a raucous laugh and was effusive in her love for the kids, for our volunteers and staff, and for me. She used to show her affection by shoving bananas directly into my mouth while I was running workshops…” Read more
A Beautiful Soul – Minu
ABOUT the Seeds Storyteller Series: Difference-Making During the Corona Crisis | Stories of community, compassion, and creativity in the midst of everyday life, today. We share these stories about everyday difference-makers with you in the midst of the Corona pandemic so you can be informed, inspired, and ignited to care for yourself and others in the midst of these disrupted and challenging days.
My heart and prayers are with you, my friend. May you be DEEPLY and WHOLLY WELL in body, mind, and spirit.
You are loved.
We belong to each other.
Let’s standTALL together and light up the world!
xo, -Sarah DT ❤️