By Mandy Oakham
The red light district of Calcutta might seem a long way from the peaceful coastline of Ocean Grove however a group of local women are forging strong links to help the women and children who have had their lives destroyed by sex trafficking.
The group of women have come together to organise a special yoga and meditation retreat in April with all proceeds going to The Offspring Project, a volunteer organisation based in India that rescues trafficked women and helps them to acquire job skills and build new lives to restore their sense of human dignity.
The “gang of four“ behind the fund raising effort are well known locals yoga instructor Tara Lynch and meditation expert Kate Gee, who are linking up with Rachael Thompson, a disability advocate, lawyer and yoga instructor, and lifestyle coach Liz Hannon.
It was 28 year old Rachael who discovered the work of The Offspring Project while volunteering in India.
The well being retreat will be held in the Kyo Garden Room on Ocean Grove’s Esplande on April 14 and bookings can be made at email@example.com and for $50 participants will experience two sessions of different kinds of yoga, meditations and relaxation, and general lifestyle tips, finishing off with a bowl of home made soup.
“All women are somebody’s off spring and hence the name of the project and when I was volunteering in Calcutta I could see the huge difference that could be made in these women’s lives with just a little help,“ Rachael said.
“Living here in Australia we have no idea about the stigma that attaches to these women being involved in the sex trade, regardless of how they came to be part of that trade.
“It is amazing to see what a difference giving these women a chance by training them up to be able to make something and then to be able to sell it, and continue to make a living as part of a social enterprise.“
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing international crimes and affects every country of the world and according to the UN more than 20 million men, women and children are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labour around the world today.
“The goal is always to increase awareness about human trafficking and we are always aiming to educate people about exactly what is going on in the world and the impact these things can have on women’s and children’s lives,“ Rachael said.
“ It so wonderful to be able to give back in this way to people who have so little.“