Monday, April 9, 2012

Change Begins in the Heart

An avid international traveler, Nomi Network’s Ava Chen avoided jetlag by staying awake for twenty-four hours and sleeping on her flight. Brilliant! Ava arrived in India to join Supei for the initial phase of Nomi’s new home in India, ready to meet the faces behind the plan. You see, when you come up with a plan, you theoretically determine the aspects, steps and people. But until you give breath to the words on the paper, the plan seems ideal, possible and foolproof.  
Ava, as the Director of Programs for Nomi, came to see the plan unfold in real time. In real India. With the women in urban and rural India. The groundwork involves surveying potential women for their program and upon the initial run, Ava and Supei determined that the surveys were too long including several culturally irrelevant choices. This is all part of the process. To revise and rewrite the questions in order to select the 120 women who will best thrive under the structure of a Nomi-implemented business. 
 All this is necessary to analyze the plans, triage operational issues and write reports. Any well run business requires these basics, and someone with Ava’s background handles these aspects systematically and professionally. But when you ask Ava what she recalls about her time in India and the images that remain with her, the women and children she met remind her why she joined Nomi in the first place. 
While visiting one of the hostels where the children of at-risk and red light district women are schooled, an eight-year old girl full of curiosity and energy took the time to show Ava a book and teach her some Hindi words. This little girl has a chance to escape the treacherous road her mother might have been forced to travel.
A woman sitting quietly across from her in a blue faded sari lowered her head when the other women explained to Ava how the season of trafficking has changed. In the past families often sold their girls into the industry, but today girls are often kidnapped by traffickers and the women all fear for their children. 
All in all, Ava found the majority of the women she encountered anxious to participate in Nomi programs, willing to learn and do anything if it means a way to earn a living and choose an alternative life to the one they are predicted to be stuck in. 
The minor inconveniences of heavy traffic, mosquitoes, cold showers and no toilet paper paled in comparison to the hope alive in the eyes of each woman Ava met. Sure, communication could be better, transportation could be easier, and an ice cold beer would take the edge off the coming summer heat. After only a week in India, Ava knows clearly that Nomi is here for a reason. Nomi belongs. Nomi will change lives.
“Something that really shocked me was the impact of the enormity of poverty in India. As I was driving out of the city during the day on the way to the airport, the poverty is so pervasive, I was not prepared for the way it knocked the wind out of me, leaving me with such a heavy heart as I departed India.”  
Heavy hearts. Aching hearts. Broken hearts. This is where change begins. Inside our hearts. And out of the overflow of our heartaches, hope comes alive through our actions. Ava, alongside Nomi Network are making it happen, and the women in India will be forever changed.


-Rajdeep Paulus

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