Date: Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 6:26 PM
Subject: Another activity for India that needs help – badly
The recent rallies in several cities in July in USA about a kidnapped, raped 14 year old minor girl in West Bengal, Tuktuki is known to some of you. The Press Release along with links to numerous news articles on the severity of the problem is given with detailed proof from Police reports from just one State of West Bengal is given at http://www.satyablog.org/
Note that the rallies resulted in release of the girl from captors but there are thousands who are victims. However, it shows if we put our efforts together we can bring attention to this issue. No parent should go through this. We got involved after a frantic heartbreaking letter from father of Tuktuki which can be read from here http://www.satyablog.org/
Here is from the group blog:
So what kind of group packs its bags for seven days in Kathmandu to volunteer their time with sex trafficking survivors? I think this is an important part of the story we’d like to share with you.
Let’s look at all that we have in common. We are all from an IT company, Salesforce or Google, and most of us live in the Bay Area. Most of us didn’t know each other before this trip. In fact, prior to boarding our flight, the only time we met in person was at a fundraiser we organized a few weeks before we left. (We organized it virtually and it was a huge success, raising over $8k! Thanks to all who contributed.) And by signing up for this cause, we are all united in our sense of social consciousness, and a passion to learn and contribute to society.
But I’m sure we’ve all had a moment during the trip where each of us realized that it was more than just common interests in social issues binding us together, and that this group was extra-special.
Many of us were on the same flight to Kathmandu with an 18-hour layover in Dubai. If you’ve never been to Dubai, it’s a cultural melting pot. With just over 20+ years of infrastructure and development, it’s already a formidable symbol of wealth and luxury. We explored the city together, visiting nightclubs, shopping, and we stayed at a luxury hotel. Jet-lagged and zero personal space later, we arrived at our hotel in the suburbs of Kathmandu the next day around midnight. This hotel was a stark contrast to our accommodations in Dubai. Everything from the airport, roads, to our modest accommodations was the polar opposite of where we had just come from. Despite our late arrival, the hotel staff stayed up and received us with a traditional Khata scarf, a Tibetan custom to honor your guests. While waiting in the lobby to get our set of keys to the room, which we were to share with a roommate, I had the moment I was telling you about earlier:
I looked around at looked at the faces and body language of everyone in the lobby. It was amazing how comfortable everybody was to be there. It was akin to coming back to visit your parents for the holidays, it felt like being home. Gone was the bubbly excitement from Dubai. This energy was different, it was raw and honest.
In the past two days, it has begun to feel like we’ve all known each other for years. Stories flow naturally, opinions are expressed openly, and we’re getting to know each other better, with a few laughs along the way. Every idea for the hackathon is treated with respect. When someone shares their observations, almost everyone else nods in agreement because they noticed or felt the exact same thing. There are more yeses and fewer no’s. People are listening and learning from each other. Within less than 24 hours of 1-1 interaction with each other, we already trust each other’s opinions and the decisions we might make as a group, knowing everyone is committed to giving their best to the hackathon in the second half of the week.
Kismet. It has to be fate that put us all together. It almost feels like we’re family, committed together to this great cause, and I’m very honored to be part of this effort. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do together.
This week’s posts are contributions from the participants of the hackathon and sex trafficking immersion week in Nepal.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Next week is very special for us. A unique volunteer project that we’ve been planning for a few months is finally coming together next week. From April 5th to the 12th, a team of twenty professionals from Google and Salesforce are going to join my crew in Nepal with the sole intention of using their technology and skills for the prevention of human trafficking. They’ll spend the first half of next week meeting with local Nepali nonprofits that work with the survivors of human trafficking so they can understand their ground reality, needs, and challenges. In the second half of the week, they’ll team up with twenty Nepali engineers from the Kathmandu chapter of Startup Weekend to brainstorm and build technology solutions for these organizations.
Kelly James (Salesforce) and I have been talking about leading a team of engineers on a volunteering event of this kind for a while now. While filming Stolen Innocence, I realized there was practically no technology being used to track or prevent human trafficking. This bothered me quite a bit and that’s when I started thinking more about conducting an experiment like this, with engineers and designers from the Silicon Valley who could use their skills to design and build some essential, low cost tools and technology to work against human trafficking. This was when Kelly, Moline Dastrup (Google), and I decided to present this plan at both Salesforce and Google. Both companies inculcate and support a strong volunteering culture among their employees, so we got a huge response when we pitched this unique opportunity to them. Of the applicants, we cherry picked a diverse group of twenty people, each with unique skills and professional backgrounds.
From early January, the group has been meeting regularly to talk about women’s rights issues, trafficking trends in India and Nepal, and Indian/Nepali society and the role of women in it.
As we near closer to the start of this unique volunteering week, I’m excited to immerse each individual into a deeper knowledge about human trafficking and why it’s growing. Many social problems are discussed behind glass walls, and not very often do people get a first-hand immersive experience to understand the issues. I believe this is key to the success of this collaborative experiment. Once the group understands the root problems first hand, they can use that knowledge to build better products to help stop it.
All through next week, we’ll be posting updates about this project on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow us on any of these channels to join us on our journey, and wish us luck so our efforts lead to good changes in the system!