A Million Flowers
Stopping child exploitation.
The song title, “A Million Flowers,” refers to the huge number of children entrapped, but calls the children “flowers” to remind us of their essential goodness and innocence.
Words by Sarah Pirtle © 2005 Discovery Center Music, BMI
incorporating words of a Hindu chant. Music © by Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma.
Tune adapted from her song, “Amma Amma Taye.” See www.amma.org
Kali, Durga Namo Nama
Kali, Durga, Namo Nama
1. A flower called out a warning as I was dragged to this shack.
“Little girl, you’ll see in the dawning your family is not coming back.
They have traded for rupees. They have trampled your dreams.
They have left you in Bombay where traffic smothers your screams.”
Amma, Amma Amma. Ammachi, I cry.
Amma, Amma, Amma. We can’t even see the sky.
2. I see your scared eyes in the corner. I remember when I first arrived.
I can help you to keep praying and you, too, will stay alive.
My new friend, I am here with you. Try to do what I learned to do.
Talk to a flower outside these walls. She will send comfort to you.
3. This room has no windows. Every day is the same.
When they open that door, you have to hold onto your name.
4. If we keep crying out to the flowers, though it may take many a year.
Someday someone will breakthrough and take us away from here.
They’ll bring us to their kitchen and see that we are well fed.
They’ll say we don’t have to go back there, and they’ll give us our own safe bed.
Amma, Amma, Amma, Ammachi, I cry.
Amma, we are flowers and someday we’ll see the sky.
Amma, we are flowers. We need that sun and the sky.
Kali, Durga Namo Nama
Production: Engineered by Joe Podlesney, www.joepodmusic.com. Percussion by Ellen Clegg.
This song is dedicated to the children who suffer from worldwide child exploitation and to the efforts to end this scourge. In the lyrics, a girl in India who has been sold by her family is calling upon a living Hindu saint, Ammachi. Amma has written soul-stirring songs, and this tune is based upon her song, “Amma Amma Taye.”
A public health expert commented about the song, "Hope is held out through connecting with a flower for girls captured into the most degrading and ugly of life circumstances." As an Interfaith Chaplain, I'm illustrating three basic aspects of healing from violence -- having a larger source to remain connected to, holding a story inside for how the hopeless situation could be ameliorated, and keeping hold of essential innocence.
At the time the song was written, figures released by the Council of Europe in 2005 estimated one million children are sexually victimized worldwide in a clandestine market encompassing human trafficking, sex tourism, child prostitution and pornography. More information on this below.
The refrain is a new tune. Durga and Kali are aspects of the Divine Mother. In the Hindu religion they are known as destroyers of evil and protectors of that which is good.
Why Amma provides a context for this song:
Amma started an Anti-Prostitution Project in Calcutta. Efforts were interrupted when the tsunami hit. Amma and her followers became engaged in contributing over $23 million to help relief efforts through her Amrita Tsunami Disaster Aid Fund. Members of Amma’s ashram in India built new houses inland, built and distributed fishing boats, helped children with their grief, and contributed medical service.
Amma began a boarding school for the children of prostitutes and bar dancing girls in Calcutta. One strategy Amma used to protect children after the tsunami was that she sent girls to nursing school for free. Amma is working with the government in India to try to pass a law forbidding families from selling their children.
In Amma’s address to the United Nations’ Interfaith Celebration in 1995, she said, “Let our effort to discover our own essential nature, that indwelling Universal Power, be a characteristic feature of the new millennium we are about to enter. Let this be recognized as one of the important goals of the next century.”
As the girl in the song calls upon the flowers and cries out to Amma, she endeavors to stay within her heart’s light despite the conditions around her. In other words, she strives to live within an indwelling Universal Power that will keep her alive. In addition, she helps another girl who is captive learn how she prays.
For more information about Amma, read Amma: Healing the Heart of the World by Judith Cornell, or go to the Website: www.amma.org. Judith Cornell writes: “Throughout the world she has been called ‘the healing saint.’ Revered in her own country as a healer and a sage, credited with thousands of miracles by her devoted followers, Ammachi, or Amma (Mother), spends most of her waking hours providing strangers with hugs of unconditional love.”
Amma explains, “I always wanted to know the cause of misery and thought if sorrow is a truth, then there must be a cause and a way out. I realize my purpose is to console--to personally wipe away tears through selfless love, compassion, and service.”
Information and Resources:
For even one child to be held in this torture is an atrocity. The number of children captive worldwide is staggering. Estimates in Australia alone are that 4000 children a year are put in this condition. In America as well, researchers have found that hidden child prostitution goes on out of the public eye.
The phrase, “child prostitute” must be thought of as a misnomer as it doesn’t emphasize that the conditions aren’t chosen by children but created by adults. This is why CATW uses the words -- “prostituted child” to show that someone has caused this.
One of the best organizations is the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women founded in 1988. The CATW website, http://www.catwinternational.org writes: “CATW is a non-governmental organization that works to end human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children worldwide. CATW is the world’s first organization to fight human trafficking internationally and is the world’s leading abolitionist organization. A unique strength of CATW is that we engage in advocacy, education, victim services and prevention programs for victims of trafficking and prostitution in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America, including in the United States.”
Child Wise is the Australian representative of ECPAT International which is a global campaign existing in over 70 countries committed to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). According to a recent article posted by Child Wise, national director Bernadette McMenamin told Reuters, “It is impossible to accurately estimate the number of child prostitutes as it is a hidden area, but we've found about 4,000 (in Australia alone) and all the indications are that the problem is increasing." McMenamin said the study was released in time for the Second World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Japanese city of Yokohama. She said the first world congress on child sex exploitation in Stockholm five years ago raised awareness of the problems and prompted a lot of rhetoric but not enough action.
I don’t know if there are other songs that have been written about child exploitation. As part of my advocacy for the rights of children, I wanted to create this song to call up the power to galvanize us to change this condition.
For discussion: Talk about the exploitation of children and envision actions locally, nationally, and internationally that would change this. What are various factors that will need to occur?