One of my favorite things about Sri Lanka, Colombo specifically, is a tuk-tuk ride home in the cool night air after the evening traffic has cleared. I tempt fate and stick my hand out the side to feel the push of fresh breeze on my hand and arm, then hear a honk and quickly tuck my arm back in beside me. The buzz of the motor, the quiet of the streets and the light speed of the vehicle feel so freeing to me. Here is Colombo, its Buddhas dressed with garlands and neon lights, its sweet smelling fruit stalls, its stray dogs crossing the road, its rich trees and flowers moving in the night air. I relish this ride and the sense of freedom it gives me, but as I fly through the streets of Colombo, my mind will veer toward those who are stuck, if only temporarily, and unmoving.
The girls we work with at the shelters, I can imagine them enjoying this ride, music playing, singing along, feeling the wind in their hair, laughing and shy about their own amusement. Sometimes I feel that beading could be, for the girls, a pause from what runs back in forth in their heads, what surrounds them each day, the troubles and emotions they face. I hope that that is true. But, I can’t wait for the day the girls can move, walk to the market, perhaps travel to see a relative, unencumbered and light. I hope one day they will all have their own evening tuk-tuk ride, whatever that means to them. I envision it to be a moment when a girl realizes that she is physically feeling happiness, has a tiny sense of adventure and holds a morsel of peace all at once.