Earlier this week, we completed the launch of CorStone’s Children’s Resiliency Program for Girls in Surat, Gujarat. Later, I spent the night in Mumbai while waiting for my flight back home.
An insightful view of challenge
The view outside my hotel window was of an immense sprawling slum. Clusters of grey ramshackle tin roof shacks as far as I could see with immense piles of litter, dozens of barefoot children, and the smoke of small fires in the alleyways as women began to prepare the evening meal.
After reflecting on this overwhelming environment, I felt pretty depressed.
The difference making a difference can make
Hundreds of millions of people in India—and throughout the world—live in conditions just like those of Surat. And I couldn’t help thinking that the challenges of poverty, discrimination and indifference are so overwhelming that surely our meager efforts weren’t going to amount to very much.
But then I thought about the difference between this slum and the slums that I’d visited in Surat. There was only one difference really.Reflections of Hope in the slums of Surat, India #GirlsFirst #Resilience #Hope Click To Tweet
In the slums of Surat, I’d made friends. In Surat, my heart had been touched and I’d had the immense privilege of touching the hearts of others. And in that mutual reaching out towards each other, human connections had been made, love had been shared, and perhaps seeds of hope and possibility had been planted.“By reaching out, we share human connections, love, and seeds of hope and possibility.”
A wise and dear friend once told me that the journey through life is really nothing more—and nothing less—than the lighting of candles. Candles of the soul. We all hold the possibility of light deep in our souls and we can each serve as a candle-lighter for others.
I’m convinced that what a person holds in their soul is what truly matters. It’s what makes us who we are, and it’s what we draw upon as we encounter others along the way, in turn sharing the light that dwells within each of us.
Blessings of friendship can change a view
When I think of the women we met in the slums of Gujarat, I hardly think of the poverty they endure on a daily basis. Rather, my memories are of warmth and generosity, heartfelt smiles, authenticity, and dignity.
I consider those friendships a blessing. And yes, it’s what makes the difference between seeing a bleak slum when you look out the window and seeing a community of hope.
Contributors of change for the better
I offer my sincere thanks to the wonderful and amazing team that journeyed with me to Surat. They included:
- Veteran Attitudinal Healing trainers Carolyn Smith + Joe Keery
- Bay Area photographer Laura Kudritzki
- Writer + volunteer Brandi Dawn Henderson
- Film crew at 24 Frames
- M. Daniel Macwan of Swaman Trust and his tireless dedication to the slum-dweller women of Gujarat remains an inspiration to us all
To each of you, my gratitude for your presence and meaningful contribution to help others in true need.