The Wings team competed in the 2013 National Tae Kwon Do Championships. Several girls won medals.

The Wings team competed in the 2013 National Tae Kwon Do Championships. Several girls won medals.

My first trip to India was in 1994. Sunil, my husband, and I had a desert holiday in Rajasthan. Last stop was Udaipur, then back to Delhi to catch our flight home. The trip to Delhi got complicated and the only option was a “deluxe” overnight bus. Deluxe was a misnomer; it was an overcrowded bus with bench seats and no amenities. I was one of 3 women on the bus. Sunil reassured me there would be stops along the way.

Eight hours later we arrived at a pit stop. It was pitch black – only a few fires glowing surrounded by huddles of men. It was eerie. I scanned for a restroom. No such luck. I could see a field off in the distance that was my solution. When I told Sunil, the look of terror on his face convinced me that I had to suck it up and hold it. I persevered and held it for hundreds of miles until the following morning when we arrived at the next stop.

In hindsight and with new awareness, I understand the danger that Sunil knew. I would have been very vulnerable to attack in that field. It is a situation that thousands of women and girls face in India every day. Lack of toilets is not only a sanitary issue but also a safety issue. The tragic murder of two girls in Uttar Pradesh last year highlighted the problem. Most of the girls at Wings live in homes with no toilet or running water. They get up in the middle of the night to relieve themselves and take solo trips to the village well to fetch water. The danger is increased by a growing public health concern of binge drinking among young, mostly illiterate, Indian males. Imagine being a teen girl walking alone to get water and you meet up with a group of drunken teen boys who start to harass you. What would you do?

Well, if you are a Wings girl you walk confidently past them and are poised to use Tae Kwon Do skills to defend yourself if necessary. Wings students begin Tae Kwon Do instruction in 1st grade and continue until they graduate. We are so proud that some of the Wings students are quite accomplished in martial arts. Team Wings made an impressive showing at the 2013 Tae Kwon Do Board of India National Tournament. Eleven girls are preparing for the 2014 competition to be held in Daman.

The Kiran Anjali Project has raised enough to send 6 girls to the competition. The 2014 “Kick Like a Girl” Fundraising Campaign goal is to raise $1,500 to finance the trip to Daman for the remaining 5 girls. The call to action for KAP supporters is to kick in $20. This year we have some fun events Kick Like a Girl events in CA and we are encouraging young KAP supporters to organize Kick Like a Girl events, like a bake sale or coin drive.

In a perfect world, every one has running water and toilet in their home. No one should have to fear being attacked. Until that day, giving the most at risk girls the skills to defend themselves is essential. Thank you for your support of KAP’s Kick Like a Girl Campaign! Go Team Wings!