When Bhawna and Rosy left the shelter home, they owned nothing – not a stitch of clothing, a photograph, or a memento to tell their story, to hold their history, and ground them. Those who assisted these young women to leave that shelter home in the north of India and move to a typical home in a village understood the importance of having personal possessions. They are a form of asset, not only a financial asset but an identity asset.

One of the wounds often inflicted on marginalized people is that they experience grinding poverty – material as well as financial. The team who supported Bhawna and Rosy understood this well, and have worked to assist each young woman to develop her own personal possessions. Rosy and Bhawna are wonderful hostesses, and when they welcome you to their home, they are so anxious to show you their bedrooms, their almiras and, specifically, the things that they own now that they have had a fresh start. One of the reasons institutionalized people often have few possessions is that they are often stolen or create problems between people living in the institution. One of the important reassurances that Bhawna and Rosy have is that their space is theirs alone, their possessions are theirs alone, and they will be safeguarded and protected.

In SRV training, we think of the many wounds experienced by marginalized people as bricks on the backs of already vulnerable people. As a response, we recommend that people find ways to prevent, reduce, and compensate. Helping both these young women develop personal possessions that express them, define them, and give them deep joy and pride is one way to take bricks off.