The BBA Experience
Post by John Quinn, 2015 and Rachel Kam, 2014
Throughout the BRIC program we have had many great experiences, but this week was definitely one of the most rewarding. We started in Jaipur, seeing many of the local sites and getting exposure to the North Indian culture. We visited the Amber Fort, several Mosques, and enjoyed homemade northern food at our Indian bed and breakfast. In class, we began immersing ourselves in the issue of modern day slavery through the trafficking of women and children. After doing some of our own research, we met Paul, a manager for the company, Made by Survivors, which employees many formerly enslaved women. Then we began our trip to Bal Ashram, where we met with children who had been rescued from slavery. Last but not least we even saw what it was like to work as a rug weaver in the rural villages of India, thanks to a tour from a Babson Alumni who founded Jaipur Rugs. To explain everything we got out of this week’s excursions would be impossible, so this blog post will focus on providing a glimpse into our time at Bal Ashram. It was one of the most unique and enlightening experiences on the trip to date.
As we read the absorbing articles assigned by professor Platt we were astounded to find out how prominent of an issue child slavery is around the world. Paul, our speaker, arrived later that night and talked to us about his company, Made by Survivors. He provided valuable insight into human trafficking and taught us how entrepreneurship can make a real difference in the lives of the people who need it most. Paul was not only invaluable in getting us to start thinking about how trafficking works in India, but he also inspired us to incorporate social responsibilities into our own working environments.
Feeling encouraged after our conversation we left for Bal Ashram the following morning. We went to help to meet and educate some children who are currently on the road to recovering from their experience as child laborers. Professor Platt and Paul helped coach us through what types of activities we should do with the children. To overcome the language barrier, we performed role playing games where we discussed the children’s aspirations and how they feel about issues such as gender discrimination and domestic violence etc. As one of the BRIC students aptly pointed out, we could have doubled our expectations about how mature and smart all of the students were and still underestimated them. They had amazing dreams and helped each other work through the tough issues that not only they, but all of India face. Not only did they help each other grow as an individual, but little did we know that these children would help inform us as well. It was astonishing to realize how much these children have gone through in their lives, yet they are able to smile and move forward from the unfortunate experience, never give up. A lesion that I am sure many of us will draw on for the rest of our lives.
We were even fortunate enough to speak with Kai Lesh Ji, the founder of the Ashram and many other child trafficking awareness organizations. The story telling, music, and dancing was only interrupted during the 10 minute period when the national television channel called his cell phone for a phone interview to ask him to speak briefly on live news about the freeing of 600 child slaves that hour in India. The night finished with a dance party with all the children. And although we were all able to forget the rest of the world as we danced away with the children, I think it is safe to say we will never forget our time at Bal Ashram.