March 30, 2013

Having just left India this year I want to especially thank our home team/staff, and all of our supporters and donors for helping make this extraordinary chapter of work through TSP a reality for many more girls, women, children and families. The Storydancer Project is truly becoming an “international artistic health resource.” We have had so many successes this year, including the palliative Home Care Team work with CanSupport, the first Master Trainer Training with the Hope Project, as well as the Day of Fun and Wellness and the Dance Peace Concert with World Buddhist Culture Trust.

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There is one program I haven’t had the time to share with you yet. We are so pleased to be in partnership for the second year in a row with New Light, a non-profit providing shelter, educational opportunities, healthcare, recreational facilities and legal aid to children, girls and women in the community of Kalighat, one of the oldest red light districts in Kolkata. I met Urmi Basu in Kolkata several years ago. She is the director of New Light and is featured in the new award-winning PBS series, Half The Sky. In partnership with New Light,  we implemented a pilot program with the children of the sex workers and underprivileged children in Kalighat. We both felt the work of TSP could be another ray of light for the girls in Soma Home and the college girls in the Sonar Tori shelter (two residential homes run by New Light). This year, as well as working with these specific groups of girls and young women, the idea arose to work with their mothers, some of whom are ex-sex-workers. To bring a class of simple tension-releasing exercises into this place–a gift for us all. To keep this work alive in the field of their community, I did a kind of mini-training with two women. In the future, we will create a team here, to share and spread the Core Wellness work where it is really needed… to offer a connection to creativity and a taste of peace of mind in the midst of life’s challenging circumstances.

Kolkata is in Bengal. The food, colors, music and life here are dynamic and intense. On my last evening in Kolkata, New Light inaugurated the Malala Media Center, named for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who would not give up her education studies in the face of the Taliban (NY Times, Oct. 2012). Here, the girls of Sonar Tori shelter and myself did a short offering through movement, and Urmi and a renowned innovator of girls’ education in Kolkata, Sister Cyril, spoke about the importance of girls’ education in the world today. Then we all had delicious samosas and the famous Bengali sweet, sandesh. TSP is so very happy to be in this partnership with New Light.

It is through these bodies we are born as human beings. To take good care of the one we’re in and pass this on is a worthy effort. Take A Minute™ for yourself, stretch, and enjoy a gentle breath, even in the midst of the challenges we all face. Your ongoing support of this work is touching so many. We are making a difference in the lives of others.

Looking ahead, be very well, and thank you!

Zuleikha, March 2013, © Swan Lake Publishing

P.S: If you get a chance, watch some of the self-portrait videos made by residents of New Light, posted on the New Light website: