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A little insight into the life of Free Spirit - a melting pot of our thoughts, beliefs, suggestions & ideas to inspire you on your path as you journey through life.

Published: 10/06/2016

Where Flowers Bloom...So Does Hope

I love India and hate India all at the same time.  It's like a passionate love affair where by one moment you are truly fascinated and in awe of the wonder of this place and then frustrated to tears all within a few minutes.  Never has a country pulled on my heart strings and played with my emotions like India.  So many times I have found myself in the most intense & difficult situations and to be completely honest, seen a side of myself that I really don't like... But this time around I took a deep breath, removing all judgement & expectations and embracing everything for what it is.. Only by dropping our preconceptions can we allow something far greater in...

Of course within minutes of the plane landing the universe was testing me. What should have taken 20 minutes but in fact a two and half hour taxi ride, driving around the same square kilometre at Midnight to find my guesthouse was nearly enough to tip me over the edge. If it wasn't for the kind but lost Canadian guy I met at the airport that I offered to share my cab with, being amazingly calm and helpful I probably would have ended up giving up and going home....Breathe Christina. Just Breathe. I reach the guesthouse at 3am, hot, tired and defeated. India 1 – Christina 0. But tomorrow is a new day. Clean Slate.

I awake early and join my new Canadian friend for breakfast. The chirpy guy serving us is a stark contrast of the same man grumpily greeting us at the door just a few hours before. But then he's probably thinking the same about me. We have a nice chat, eat and all is well. Amazing what a few hours sleep, a shower and some food can do to a person.

I have my day planned out. My intention for this trip is to visit the Hope Foundation, a charity based here in Calcutta helping children out of poverty. Founded by Maureen Forrest in 1999 the charity have grown in this time to now run numerous projects including a 52 bed hospital, a creche for market sellers to drop their children so they are not roaming the streets, 8 protection homes for boys and girls, an effective education program and life & training skills to help young people into the working world and give them a passport out of poverty.

I visit all these projects and am completely overwhelmed. The amazing work that Hope are doing and the difference they are making to these children's lives is truly inspiring. We spend the afternoon at one of the girls protection homes, where they show me their paintings, their dancing and even taekwondo! Laughing & giggling like any teenage girls, you would never know they came from such poverty stricken beginnings.

I chat with three of the girls who are “passing out” next week... The first girls of the project to turn 18 and to leave for the big wide world. Hope also help with this transition by finding them paid shared accommodation, emotional support and help to look for work in skilled areas such as IT or textiles... giving them wings to fly the nest that has become their home. The girls are naturally nervous but excited at the same any girl of's scary going onto face new challenges in search of their future. Without Hope, none of this would be even possible.

Hearing the hopes, dreams & aspirations of these children just like any priveledged chilld is truly inspiring. And seeing the difference that Hope are making to young lives, to experience it first hand has been a truly humbling experience...

I want to help. I need to help. Even to make the smallest difference, to help more children in Hope's care and out of poverty... to give them a fair chance in life. Not only to give them wings but teach them how to use them...for life.

Please keep following Free Spirit for updates on how we intend to support this amazing cause.

...And on my last morning in Calcutta, as I wander through the infamous largest flower market in India, I have a little time to reflect on my last few days.  Amongst all the poverty, the dirt, the heat...such beauty lies here... not only in the bright blooms I can see here right in front of me, but in every corner... in the beautiful nature of the people, the beautiful smiles, the gratitude of having so little... all of a sudden a two and a half hour taxi ride in the wrong direction seems like a luxury...  And as I stand between the hustle and bustle in the middle of inquisting eyes and an abundance of fragrant flora I breathe and smile... as they say, where flowers grow, so does Hope... and it goes on for as far as the eye can see...

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