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My first encounter with India

In November 2017, I set out on a life-changing journey to India for humanitarian work. I had the opportunity to visit a slum in the city of Dehradun, in Northern India, and get to know the individuals who called this place home.

The organization I traveled with was engaged in teaching women various types of handicrafts. Together, we sat on the floor, talked, and created decorations by cutting and sewing stars. For these women, these crafting sessions were more than just a creative outlet; they were safe spaces for speaking freely and breaking away from the ordinary.

In those precious moments, I came to realize the depth of how fortunate I am - not just in material possessions, but in the abundance of opportunities laid out before me. I have the opportunity to express myself through writing, to seek employment, earn a living, pursue education, and do exactly what I want to do. I have the opportunity to reach my potential.

And I took it for granted.

As few of these young Indian women could speak nor understand English, we were fortunate to have translators. Listening to their stories was so powerful to me. Despite language barriers, our connection formed. Never had I experienced such a profound bond with people I had just met. And as I was sitting there, overwhelmed yet impassioned, a deep sense of purpose washed over me. In that very moment, I knew I was committed to stand by these individuals.

The start of a new journey

I firmly believe that witnessing injustice triggers something in us humans. At least it did for me. On my very first day in the slum, I knew I had to return. Four months later, I went back to India determined to find a way for these women to live the lives they deserve. I quickly realized that my return to India was not the entire journey, but merely the beginning of something greater. And today, seven years later, I remain dedicated to standing alongside these women—only now, they have become my colleagues.

- Eirin B. Fossberg, CEO



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