laurie kallevig -- the story of survivor girl ukulele band project

it all started back in 1999, when i spent much of the year traveling in southeast asia. it bothered me when i learned that each year hundreds of young girls from poor rural villages in nepal were given the “opportunity to get a nice domestic job with a rich family in india” only to be whisked across the border and sold to a brothel and raped twenty times a night. ya, that bothered me. but what was I to do about it? i was just me, and i had a plane ticket. time to move on to the next place.

the years went by and i got busy with graduate school and living my life, but those girls never left my mind. then one night i woke up with the words “rescue and restore” ringing in my ears. i sat up in bed and thought, “that’s those girls. that’s God telling me i have to do something. it’s time to get involved.”

soon i was in south India, volunteering for a few months as communications coordinator with freedom firm, in ooty. later I volunteered with the communications department with an organization in new delhi, but i was not being utilized at all. then one day they said, "would you like to go on a field visit?" they would be doing a training with the perna caste, which has a high rate of intergenerational prostitution. i said, “yes!” and grabbed my guitar, hoping to be able to play and sing with the girls after the training. what a hit! the girls loved singing with the guitar and zoomed up afterwards to see it and strum it and ask how it works.

as i later blogged about that experience, i thought to myself, the guitar is big and bulky and expensive and hard to learn. but the ukulele is small and easy to transport and inexpensive and easy to learn. why not learn to play the ukulele and come back to India with a bunch of ukuleles and form a survivor girl ukulele band! and that’s what I’m doing.

i believe music can be a powerful tool in restoring wholeness and building hope for the future. but my main goal is to show them love that i carry from God and from my friends and family who support me in this endeavor. the ukulele is fabulous little vehicle i use to deliver that love.  they first earn how to play their favorite bollywood hits, but soon they will learn how to write their owns songs and find their own voice -- and write the soundtrack for the movie of their own lives. its my hope and prayer that the time we share together and the skills they have gained in learning to make music with the ukulele will have dividends of joy and fun and hope and healing for years and years to come.

i also hope that the project creates more awareness that may lead to action and activism and powerful legislation against of the world-wide plague of human trafficking. because it’s not just in India that people are being bought and sold. people are being bought and sold everywhere. it's time to get involved.