I’m Torn Up

I’m torn up. What happens to girls here tears me up and I can’t put it away. I founded this home because I know what it is like, but sometimes it hits me in the face and I’m just torn up.  Over the years we have had two girls who re-connected with their families.  In each case the family found a way to basically sell the girls.  In one case the girl had been sold as a child already.  Getting her back meant they could sell her again.

Yesterday we had a visit from another of the girls who had pushed every possible limit and who we finally simply could not safely manage.  That was four years ago.  For privacy I won’t say much but she is trapped now.  The concept of the “arranged marriage” often involves an unwritten contract between the families, and usually money is part of the arrangement.  Usually it is dowry and the girl’s family pays.  In this case the family could make a case for an educated girl who speaks English and the groom’s family had to pay.  The life she has now is everything she was running away from…. It’s complicated, so complicated.  She hugged us and cried and told her sisters here never to make the same mistake she did.  When she left today I tucked my business card in her blouse, as I have done each time she left as we tried to find solutions for her behavior.

The promise I made to the girls when they came is that they would forever be a part of this family, even if I could not manage them here.  Shishur Sevay is the “mother house,” the place you return to when things are bad.  She came home to her mother house.  She knows she can stay but she had to leave.  The biggest part of the battle is within her.  None of this is about danger.  It’s about who she wants to be, what she wants for her future, and whether she has the strength and courage to wage what would be a family and social upheaval.  Or does she say, “This is my lot,” and give up on her dreams.  That’s the norm……

There really isn’t an in-between.

When we first started Shishur Sevay, and for a long time afterwards, there was huge local resistance to our home.  Many in the community believed I’d come here to make money, that I was raising and educating these girls to be sold for a high price abroad. But now I understand better why they might think that.

Written well past midnight, I’m torn up.







3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. joycegodwingrubbs2
    May 18, 2017 @ 08:03:37

    I cannot relieve the anguish in your soul, for I still carry the heartbroken anger and despair of seeing some of those youngest ones I worked with, during a time of street ministry and efforts through my non-profits here in the states. Those efforts date back to the 1970’s. It never leaves you; you feel others judging your efforts. Yet it is true and fair to say that we do/did the best we could. Some things are not in the purview of our control. We can only know in their deepest despair, their most reflective times, it will be the small joys and memories of the good in their lives that will give them comfort. It will be Shishur Sevay and you Michelle. I just read an amazing short story account by Pulitzer Award winner, author Alex Tizon, that is a truly necessary read for you when you are stronger and when you feel so moved to do so; it is called My Family’s Slave. (Sending link separately and there is an audio version connected to the link). I just read it 24 hours ago and it moved me so, yet first tore my heart out, but humbled me beyond recognition. I don’t know how or why, but I found some peace in being inside Lola’s life/head and it was in the latest years (of 56) that she found peace, and forgiveness toward the others. Stay strong my dear friend; do for yourself what I would do for you if I could be there to minister to you during these trying times. And be my stand-in and allow yourself some grace and gentle nurturing as you know I would be urging. No one said it would be easy, but I know you hoped it would never be this tragic and hard. FORGIVENESS IS THE ANSWER TO A CHILD’S DREAM OF A MIRACLE BY WHICH WHAT IS BROKEN IS MADE WHOLE AGAIN, WHAT IS SOILED IS MADE CLEAN. Dag Hammarskjold, Former United Nations Secretary of State.


  2. Swami Nityananda Puri
    May 18, 2017 @ 08:41:52

    Namaste. Swimming against the tide is difficult indeed, as you have experienced more than once. I lack the resources, and recoil from government involvement, and that is why my dream of a destitute home and orphanage has failed to materialise. May you have strength. With regards, Yours faithfully, Swami Nityananda Puri


  3. Hurwitz Home
    May 18, 2017 @ 15:46:42

    Hi Michelle,

    This story made my eyes fill and I could hear the pounding between my ears….


    I wondered, do I know this child?

    Thinking of you,

    Love from Nicki.


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May 2017
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