If there was any part of my trip to India with my mother that truly felt like I was immersed in a world that was completely different than anything that I’ve ever experienced in my life, it’s Varanasi (also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi, a city located on the left bank of the Ganges. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it is also one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism.
While traveling in Jaipur, we came across “Ladli” (meaning “loving girl” in Hindi), a vocational training program for abused, orphaned and destitute children in the desert city of Jaipur, India. I learned that this vocational center paid children that were vulnerable to begging (and even prostitution!) and taught them skills in craftmaking, a very valuable skills in the jewelry capital of Jaipur. They were also taught Hindi, English, Art, Math, and Dance, and were provided nutrition, medical check-ups and counseling.