Karma Nirvana launched its first Community Roadshow yesterday. We kicked off in Luton and I’m feeling a number of emotions but let me start with the word WOW!
The team arrived with leaflets and energy to a bustling line of people all clambering to get into the venue. I noted women that reminded me of my mother being first generation and second generation women wearing traditional dress and chatting in Urdu and Punjabi about forced marriages. Oh I thought how far we have travelled their presence filled me with hope. Then to my left I heard about the coach pulling in filled with energetic students from a local Luton College.
The room was set out in a wedding style venue behind the tables sat a grand stage ordinarily set up for the bride and groom and my mind couldn’t help but wonder. I wondered how many marriages had taken place in this very room some maybe without consent in the heart of diverse Luton. Equally I felt a sense of hope, pride and peace as today this room would be filled with survivors sharing their stories and communities willing to listen and take part.
Karma Nirvana set out its stall, presentation and had uplifting music blasting out, that when people arrived they couldn’t but help shake their hips a little to Pharrell’s Happy and Beyoncé’s I’m a survivor!
Today was our opportunity to extend Karma Nirvana’s hand and work to communities from all backgrounds. This was for me also to be a day in history as the local Imam Hafiz Muhammad Ehsan Ullah of Al-Hira Centre spoke with conviction stating clearly how forced marriages are forbidden in Islam. As he spoke the iPhone cameras rolled as we captured this historical moment in time so to share it with the KN team, my children and the world!
My presentation entitled Silent Voices-Empowered Voices spoke about the journey of UK victims their struggle and ability to break free and survive. The courage of Ria our survivor spoke out and we felt in the emotion and silence in the room that you could hear a pin drop. Ria spoke for the first time about the abuse at the hands of those who were meant to love her the most, being her family. Ria then took the audience by storm and shared how she took back control, set goals, dared not only to dream but live her dream free from abuse. Ria has travelled the world, set up a business, studying for a degree and so much more albeit without family.
Karma Nirvana will be travelling across the UK over the next 8 weeks and it is without doubt that this event has raised the bar! If you wish to feel the energy, become part of the change and be further empowered register at our website and join us. The one thing I can assure you, is that you will be moved and even a little changed as these events are powerfully transforming and you may even think twice about how you can play a part in tackling these abuses that plague Britain.
The Roadshows will be running between April to June and will be completed just before the lead up to the six weeks academic holiday, linking into the busiest time of year for our national helpline. The roadshows will be visiting Harrow, Dagenham, Hammersmith, Manchester, Stoke, Cardiff, Bradford, Leicester and Birmingham.
For further information, contact the roadshow coordinator on [email protected]
Jasvinder Sanghera CBE