A special LEE event took place at the Paripally center on Sunday. Undefeated world-champion boxer, Hollywood actress (biggest hit, "Million Dollar Baby"), and renowned activist and women-empowerment speaker Lucia Rijker joined the Women Empowerment team for a session on overcoming obstacles to follow your dreams and basic self-defense. She took a special trip from her native Nederlands to visit Amma and the ashram, and after hearing about the Women Empowerment Project, was very keen to help us in whatever way she could. It was a golden opportunity for our graduates, and the students of the Paripally orphanage to interact with a heavyweight in global Women Empowerment, and the students and WE graduates alike took to the discussion with enthusiasm. Ten WE Graduates and over 30 of the Paripally Amrita Vidyalayam orphanage students participated.
Lucia began her talk with a story of her childhood and how she was able to overcome all odds, including poverty, cultural and family resistance, and personal stumbling blocks to become the world-champion fighter, actress, and activist she is today. Her inspiring message was meant to encourage the women and girls present to never give up on a dream, however impossible it may seem, and that the power of commitment and persistence is stronger than you think. Her life story itself was a great inspiration for the participants. After sharing her life story, Lucia then had everyone in the room stand up, find a partner, and demonstrated some basic self-defense moves to protect yourself against an attacker. Each move was carefully taught under Lucia’s supervision, and practiced in the group until she was satisfied everyone could do it correctly.
Because domestic violence, alcoholism, and eve-teasing are major problems in India, it was a pertinent exercise and many of the women excitedly took up the task to learn these easy moves. Several moves were taught and practiced such as: what to do when someone tries to hit you, grabs your arm, tries to put their arm around your neck/chokes you, and grabs your hair.
She also gave some helpful hints to avoid violence such as staying alert and aware of your surroundings and never letting yourself seem vulnerable to strangers. She made these potentially scary scenarios seem effortless to avoid and to protect oneself, bringing laughter and confidence to the exercises. The WE Graduates were especially happy to participate and encouraged one another to practice the moves. Lucia suggested that these women could practice these simple techniques with each other to make it as easy as 2nd-nature to perform if something like this were to ever happen in real life.
After nearly two hours, Lucia finally said goodbye. She left nearly 50 women and girls full of confidence and joy to pursue their dreams and let nothing get in their way. We hope Lucia can join us again soon for another empowerment session.
January 06, 2014