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working together

a shared project

shared lives

shared experiences

It takes courage to get up every day and do the things we need to do in a world that judges us on the colour of our skin, the language we speak, food we eat, beliefs we have, clothes we wear, partner we choose, abilities we may not have. Not to mention the fact that we are female.
— Mel
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Shambhavi is from India.

"Many of us have experienced once in our lifetime, that time that repeats itself at a certain point. I really felt this in my case. After coming to Australia in 2017, in the very first week of being here I found myself in the same situation as I was in 2007, back in India.

I come from a small city called Varanasi known for its spiritual, religious and cultural values. In 2007 I left my home and moved to India's capital New Delhi in search of my identity in the hope of creating my small space in the world. I was struggling, though my fmily was always there to support me, but sometimes when they saw me struggling they used to say 'come back. You need not to do all that hardship. You have a lovely family. They love you, they take care of you and they are worried for you.'

"It's a cultural thing in India; girls are very much pampered and highly protected. My parents used to tell me to get married and enjoy my life, and that they would find a good guy for me who would take care of me much more than them. They said 'we don't want you to face this tough world'. But there was always something in me that would not rest - the desire to be independent. I always had a big question in my mind - why can't I take care of myself? Why is always up to my father or my husband to look after me? When God has given me equal strength as a boy, why doesn't society think I can make it alone? It was very true that I wanted a nice life partner, as everyone does. But I needed a life partner, a companion to sit with me, to talk with me, to laugh with me and share the emotions and feelings with me, not for bearing my food and living expenses because I knew I was capable of doing all this for me.

So I never returned to my home town. I stayed and worked hard and after five years of struggle and hard work I achieved the thing that was very important to me, the 'biggest sense of self achievement' being independent and I enjoyed it to the full.

Here comes the moment where my time repeated itself. I got married to a guy that was in Australia. I cam to Australia in 2017, and this time I was not just leaving my hometown but leaving my whole country. Once again I was in a new place, not just a new country but a whole new continent. Here I was back to square one - starting everything once again and again wanting to create a small place for me, finding my identity, my place, my independence, and my recognition.

When I say Recognition it's not something I want from the world for me or from my people. It is something that must come from within me, from the innermost part of Shambhavi that says...

'Well done Shambhavi, you did it again!'

Ten years from THEN, I can NOW see myself doing all that again, and feeling my worth."

We lived in a society where most families considered their sons to be their only children. In many places, girls are not allowed to get higher education. However, my sister and I are very fortunate to have grown up in such a loving, open-minded family.
— Tuyet
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