A Collaboration of Hearts: TSP & New Light in Kolkata, India, February 2014

Zuleikha & Urmi buying food for ‘the Mothers’ program

washing grapes

When The Storydancer Project came into partnership with the Kolkata-based organization, New Light, (www.newlightindia.org) under the directorship of a remarkable woman, Urmi Basu, we began to work with the daughters of sex workers. We have done several kinds of seminars and trainings, and slowly, many girls are having an opportunity to explore what we call “Core Wellness and Movement Arts.”

Last year, I began to wonder about how to reach out to the mothers of the New Light girls. Urmi and I discussed this, and as you may recall, we did a small, successful pilot training program for some of the mothers. This year, the work with ‘the Mothers’ has been very much in our hearts and minds. When Urmi and I met in USA to plan the work of TSP in Kolkata, we had the idea to do a workshop with more of these women, who have been, or still are, sex workers. I am so very happy and thrilled to share this news: The Storydancer Project in partnership with New Light has just completed the first part of a very new kind of program with the Mothers, exploring creativity, restoration, health, and self expression.

Core Wellness & Movement Arts with ‘the Mothers’

smiles across the floor

putting clay masks on each other

how does it look?

Last week I went with Urmi to her presentation and panel discussion at a well-known business college here in Kolkata. The subject was: Women Entrepreneurs, “Women in the Metro, Breaking the Glass Ceiling.” Urmi gave a stirring talk about trafficking, New Light’s work with women, the children of the sex workers, and women in the world of business. I was then introduced and had a chance to give a brief talk about our bodies and wellness, and to do an exercise with the primarily female audience. Everyone was surprised to get up to ‘Take A Minute,’ and we all had a good laugh, feeling relief after sitting for such a long time.

Meeting with the Heritage Group of Institutions

Heritage conference – interactive panel discussion

Along with the new program for the Mothers, I have the honor to continue the work with the high school/college girls at Sonar Tori, the house where the girls live together, cook for each other, share the chores, and learn how to live in community. It is a wonderful place. We have had several movement seminars, including deep discussions about where they have come from, their opportunities, and how they feel after moving together in our seminar. Afterward, we’ve shared the delicious lunches that they have prepared themselves.

young women of Sonar Tori

As I get ready to go out into the day, I am again filled with hope, remembering this quote from Rumi:

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Because of your continued generosity and support, we are indeed reaching those in the world who have not been able to receive the precious gifts of simple joy through wellness and exercise. Please share this blog with your friends, that the circle of wellness may continue to reach women, girls, children and families challenged by life’s circumstances.

I will return to USA at the end of March, and am inspired to share about this work, through performance, speaking, and slide shows. Please write to us at projectdirector@storydancer.com, at FB at The Storydancer Project or Storydancer Zuleikha, or by snail mail to PO Box 31099 Santa Fe, NM 87594.

All the Very Best,
Founder/Director TSP

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