Thursday, July 2, 2009

Two Portraits: in the midst of chaos

Two Portraits: in the midst of chaos from Halim Ina on Vimeo.

Here we have a short documentary of two girls, both daughters of prostitutes and girls of the Nat and Kanjar Communities. This is their first time seeing us and their first time in front of a camera.

These communities' sole economy is the trade of sex: their girls are sent to the big cities in India and to other countries as prostitutes, many as young as fourteen years of age. This is the way of the Nat and Kanjar Communities presently.

We must remember that life was different for these communities in the past. Before turning in desperation to the trade of sex, the Nat and Kanjar Communities were artisans as well as the traditional entertainers to everyone from royalty to village folk.

While being regarded as the lowest caste, they nonetheless earned their living from the traditional system of extending services among castes, with the women performing and the men supporting with music. With the decline of this social structure and the rise of other forms of entertainment, they were left with a nomadic lifestyle and without a traditional means of survival. The community has since turned to prostitution and is on the outside of society, having little access to education, medicine, justice and basic human rights. They are approached only for their work and ignored the rest of their lives.

With my own eyes, I saw children sitting and listening to the teacher with an eagerness that teachers in the West may perhaps rarely experience. They sang songs, wrote their names, danced in circles and smiled from ear to ear.

Sure, their sisters performed the trade known to these villages while all of this happened in front of me, but we only need to look at our own most recent civil rights struggles to understand that such changes take time and doing nothing cannot be accepted.

Even though this was our first time in the village, these girls presented themselves with an exemplary hospitality and kindness, such values that are to be treasured as a witness to their plight daily.

Nirvanavan Foundation is trying to turn this around through education first and foremost, through providing access to people such as teachers from other villages, to visitors from other countries, through art fairs, through leading by example. They are to be admired and respected.

Should you feel the desire to be a part of this energy, then you are most welcome to visit our websites:

You have our gratitude in advance for viewing their stories.

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