Dubai, 2013: Just a few weeks ago, I was on my usual creative experimentalist mood and working on my handcrafted cufflinks. It was in the wee hours of the morning, and while flicking through channels, I came across a documentary called Half the Sky, which in this episode covered prostitution in India. This particular episode featured America Ferrera, the ‘Ugly Betty’ actress and Urmi Basu, Founder of New Light, on the streets of one of India’s main cities.

This post may not be about the benefits of creative arts therapy and arts psychotherapy on the lives of people and healthcare. Still it is about a topic that is close to my heart. Empowerment, waking up to our full potential, discovering ways to help others in need.  It was something that Ferrera said that really brought tears to my eyes and which led me to write this post. To quote Ferrera, “I have something to contribute but if I am not going to give myself in a way that it’s going to enrich someone’s life, then I am cheating the world of what I uniquely have to give…”

In this busy day and age, what is each of one us doing to impact the lives of others, beyond just writing a cheque for a charity or raising money for a worthy cause (both of which are good things and sometimes work hand in hand with the volunteering work that we may do). What steps are we taking to look beyond our comfort bubble and see the broad picture of humanity and the suffering that attacks it in different ways. In the case of prostitution, based on the episode that I watched on TV, it was an eye opener to note if the girls who are forced into prostitution and their families are made aware that they have a life choice that goes beyond selling their bodies for other’s gratification, then they are empowered to shine their lights, or become new lights in the darkness that surrounds them. One way of raising awareness of these positive life choices is through education. Sending the girls to school. Opening up their world to the myriad opportunities that surround them. Awakening who they really are, to match up to their greatest potential. And New Light as well as the Half The Sky program seem to be doing a great job in education and building awareness  as well as informing the general population of the real case situations happening in the lives of millions of oppressed women around the world.

As part of the episode, two little girls were featured, namely Susheela and Monisha. While Susheela had great plans for her life, that included becoming a laywer, Monisha was asked to return along with her mother to the home village, by her grandfather. New Light, really tried to convince her mother to let the little girl stay back. They knew her fate if she returned to the village, which is be forced into prostitution. I was keen to see what had happened since then. Thankfully I found an update online and here is the video. Monisha is staying back so that she can receive the education that she rightfully deserves.

This whole episode woke me up to the fact, that how grateful I am for the circumstances in my own life. I was sent to school, raised in a loving family in all its comfort right here in the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi). I had the opportunity to do my higher degrees in India and the UK. And I am blessed without a doubt that I have a chance to see opportunity at every door, window and mirror. Perhaps, you feel the same. Let us, then find ways to do something with our opportunities that impact the lives of others, even if that starts with a smile, or a warm handshake, so that the human thread that binds us all is solidified through love and community.

What is one way that you will take, after watching the videos below, to awaken to your highest potential and help suffering humanity? Please post your comments below.

About Half the Sky movement: This is a book and a TV show by Pulitzer Prize Winners, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The TV show documents their travels through Asia and Africa where they meet women who are struggling and those struggling women who looked fear in the eye with boldness and set on their own journey of freedom, while enlightening other struggling women in similar positions. It focuses on solutions that will empower girls and women and find ways from oppression to opportunity.

Not to be confused with Half the