Imagine you had a friend who had been separated from family due to unforeseen circumstances almost 25 years ago, and one fine day as you talked usual stuff, you heard them say something- something, which struck you hard awake, and rang a clanging bell in your mind pushing you to risingly exclaim in unbidden hope: “Wait a minute, the place you describe, I think I know just where it is! In fact, I’ve been working there myself for a while now!!!” This would then be followed by a surge of excitement enveloping you both, as you set out to source the family of your dear friend, and in a rare case of utterly believable disbelief, you actually do manage to find them- A miracle right here my friends, extremely rare in itself, of itself and by itself.
What’s even more miraculous, is the fact that this is no fiction, but a true story of what actually happened with an organisation and their defendee, a section of trailblazers you may not have heard of perhaps.
So let’s now take an elated grateful leave of our imagination and enter into the reality of a rare miracle such as what we just imagined and promisingly more, in the life of a bride trafficking survivor, a strong member of the Empower People family today.
Yes it is true, that this is not as much a story of a friend separated from family through a kinder set of circumstances as we would have preferred to fancy, but a story of a family who lost their daughter to an inhuman network of sale of girls and women for marriage.
Yes it is true, that this is not the story of a friend who had the company of one such as you as in our imagination, but the story of a girl and a woman, who suffered for years at end at the hands of “humans” who thought they owned her having had exchanged her for a handful of rupees, and who felt and believed that it was their right to treat her as they wished (read- ‘as a slave’) as per the indiscriminate demands of their own desires.
Yes it is also true, that in an extremely rare turn of events, the family did have an unbelievable reunion with their daughter, many years later, when that daughter had now become a middle aged woman with a daughter and son-in-law of her own.
Now let’s try to capture the infallible exclusivity of this occasion by providing some further context. It is factually very rare that one who gets caught up in the utterly devious net of trapping vulnerable girls and women for business, rarely ever gets a chance to see light into their 40s as they are either killed off or are starved or abused to death in a never ending cycle of buying and selling for marriage to men, who would never comprehend the amount of torture the women suffer at their changing hands of consistently railing sexual and domestic abuse that they are put through in every moment of their lives, leave aside their exhaustive exploitation for free labour.
Marjina though, is a raging blue flame of a miracle, to have firstly survived all the trauma; to have then gone on to regaining her sense of what it means to be human, after having been treated like an object for all her life from the time she was taken away from her home; and further on, to have yet found it in her to become a guardian and leader for all those who continue to suffer what she had the fortunate luck to escape. Luck my friends, is an underrated word here, for it literally stands for a ‘Loyal Undertaking of Caring for the Kidnapped’ in the form of an organisation, Empower People, that works with sheer dedication to rescue and protect women entrapped in the ugly mesh of bride trafficking- a network that has arisen and been kicked alive from the basest forms of evil tendencies in human beings.
Today, after 10 intense years of discerned hacking of this network of evil, Empower People can proudly proclaim that they have managed to save the lives of over 4000 women from utter atrocities at the hands of unbelievable inhumanity that a section of society has organised itself towards practising unashamedly. The rescue and rehabilitation of so many in itself, is a monumental achievement if you were to talk to any organisation that works on field today. Yet, Empower People remains far from showing its pride and continues to humbly do their bit and work thoroughly hard to innovate different ways to tackle the treacherous existence of trafficking.
What may seem like a gloomy affair though, has its own moments of shining, its own moments of priceless reward. This time, it came in the form of Marjina, who was taken from her family against her will (Marji-na) 25 years ago to the far west of the country in Haryana, and who sits today with her family in communion in the far east of the country in Assam, just as you read these very words, after long years of wait and of having been thought lost forever.
Marjina today, is a shining beacon for all those who may have lost hope. In her steady gaze of unbeatable will, she has proven that it is possible to live after many a deaths (Mar-jina), that miracles do exist and that no matter the circumstances, life will strive to lift you up and prod you to go on with a renewed sense of doubly reinforced spirited effort if only we lose hope not and hang on to the tiniest of even a dusty speck of a spark.
It is an entirely different matter to try to comprehend the volley of suppressed bitter-sweet emotions that may have arisen within her upon being suddenly brought face to face with a world one thought one had lost forever, especially difficult for us sheltered ones, who write and read such stories of courage from the comfort of our own safe harbours which are now but rattling under the pressure of unseen deluges of atrocities and roaring thunders of unheard voices. Let’s pay attention to them and make a safe space for the vulnerable through our listening, our speaking up and our sharing our support in cash, kind or passing on their stories, to help them further reach other safe harbours. Who knows, they may just find their calling and recompense of living through defending the rights of others with lesser faculties or hope of reaching out loud and clear in solidarity of what will be accepted by humanity at large and what will not be tolerated at all.
The world is as much of anything, only as much as we are willing to make it. Let’s get together, and make it beautiful, it is after all the tiny efforts of the uncommonly common individuals that trickle together to become a wave that can no longer be ignored or taken lightly even by the vilest of systemic assumptions gone utterly wrong.
If you are inspired to be part of the movement, write to [email protected] and you shall hear back from the EP team who shall collectively rejoice in wonder at your brave stand and be more than glad to associate and team up with you.
Before Marjina actually met her family, EP Team had arranged for an online meeting, you can watch the video right here.