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:::: India, Nepal, xo ::::

Seeing all the promos for the new movie Eat Pray Love is reminding me of my own trip to India and Nepal in 2001. Having just graduated from college and armed with a grant from the Asia Network to study and photograph women’s rights groups, I embarked on what would become a life altering trip.

Arriving in the middle of the night when all was quiet in the streets, we drove by the light of the van’s headlights through the winding streets to our hotel. I remember a feeling of total awakeness by the adrenaline of being in this exotic place. The night was heavy with humidity and I went out walking around the grounds of the hotel making my way to the beach where the sun rising over the Bay of Bengal was my introduction to the magic of this place.

The first half of my trip I spent with the Community Seva Centre located outside of Pondicherry, in southeast India. CSC is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that services 22 villages providing child heathcare education for mothers, computer training for students, medical assistance for the elderly, etc. For more information about CSC and their programs, visit their site here.

This group of women {above} live in huts which are a 15 minute walk away from this beautiful beach, yet, they had never been there. Their lives are full of domestic responsibilities, and recreational activities that are strictly for personal enjoyment/relaxation happen rarely. Made me really think about the simple pleasures in our lives that we often take for granted.

Graduating from a liberal arts college with a Studio Art degree can make you feel a bit lost, especially if you are not planning on going the gallery route. I had no idea what I wanted to do. The colors, patterns, textures, and hand-work of the fabrics in India sparked my love and appreciation for textiles and would become my future career path.

One of the most inspiring women I met, Renu Sharma, President of The Women’s Foundation in Kathmandu, Nepal. She has often risked her life in highly dangerous situations rescuing women and children who are victims of trafficking and abuse to rehabilitate them. Her safe house provides medical and psychological treatment as well as education in order for these women and children to rebuild their lives and become self sufficient. You can read about Bimala here, just one of hundreds of women that have been saved, and visit Renu’s website here.

I really hope to get back to both India and Nepal someday and visit the incredibly kind and inspiring people I met. It would be a dream come true to design and produce a line of goods that helps support some of these remarkable organizations that I miss dearly.

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