Testimonial by Laurianne Marin
She arrived at Varanasi with her 2010 Elle in hand for her long-awaited visit to Maison Disha. She’d been dreaming about it for four years!
Laurianne Marin, 45, is a mother who lives in Lyon. She had been thinking about Maison Disha ever since she read an article about it by Patricia Gandin (with photos by Jane Evelyn Atwood) in the 28 May 2010 issue of Elle. Her copy of the magazine in hand, she finally made it there and saw it for herself. It was this past January, four years later.
“It all began with the article published in Elle in 2010. I held on to that issue, thinking that the next time I visited India I would go to Varanasi and stop by Maison Disha.
I gained so much from the little girls that I met there, and in such a short time, that I still can’t believe it. I loved spending time with them and seeing that in spite of the horrible experiences they’d had – and it’s clear that they all lived through some very difficult times – they are still children who laugh and find fun in the smallest things!
The Elle article, which I had carefully saved these past few years, was an excellent point of reference for introducing myself to the house’s inhabitants, and it was just wonderful to see them looking at the article, bursting out laughing at the photos and enjoying seeing themselves in them. For me, it was very emotional, but I kept my feelings in check. Soon, however, the tears welling up in my eyes gave way to laughter. I had been waiting for this moment for so long!
Eleanor and Anne-Laure (the two Act & Help project coordinators at Varanasi) are absolutely perfect. Eleanor has what it takes to keep the house running while remaining close to the girls, and Anne-Laure is very sweet but with a lot of energy. And they both seem to be experts at dispensing tenderness and firmness. A bit of strictness is necessary when you’re dealing with 20 girls, some of whom are very headstrong!
I received a wonderful welcome from the matajis (the mothers of the establishment). There is no doubt that each member of the team does a great job.
I operate on LOVE alone, and my heart is full of joy. I came back in early February but keep thinking about returning one day. I really want to get more involved in the Act & Help project. In setting off to meet the little girls of Disha, I never imagined I would feel so many emotions. It was a life-changing experience.
Lyon is where I have my life, my work, my child and my partner, but I look at the photos of “my little girls” every day and feel the same joy as before. It really was a lovely experience. These past few years, I kept telling myself that one day I would see Maison Disha. My dream came true, and now I want to help support it in my own small way. I know my contribution is only a grain of sand, but if all the people interested in the project got involved, there is no doubt in my mind that Maison Disha would not only continue, but also grow.