I think I know myself with a reasonable amount of certitude. A little bit stubborn, a profound sense of justice, a little bit volatile, compassionate, some would say hard on the outside and friends who know me well would say soft on the inside. So when I tell you about Laxmi, I am, in some ways, telling you about myself.

I get Laxmi, her desire for right and wrong and good and bad to be made clear. She is extremely tough and yet fully soft if you are willing to engage her. If you come at her strong she will seek to defeat you and if you come at her quiet and soft she opens up in beautiful vulnerability. She is woman I understand.

Her story broke my heart the first time I heard it and pings around my brain as I engage her on a daily basis. I feel like I am often dealing with a reflection of myself with far more pain and far less resources. What she has survived has shaped her and Laxmi will not let it define her future self or future path. She knows herself and seeks to heal and be restored in the areas that harm others and she leads with intention and thoughtfulness even in the midst of pain. She too wants to be whole, healthy and find acceptance for all of who she is, in both the good and not so great. We are sister seekers of justice, of personal wholeness and transformation.

She is extremely intelligent and an eager learner. To watch her in Sari Bari Leadership Training is like watching sponge try to absorb the ocean. Her hunger to learn, to be better, to know herself and find a better way to be herself is beautiful. I always wonder who she might have been if she had been able to go to school, if she had been born somewhere else and did not have to walk a road she did not choose. Laxmi shows me her strength, boldness and beauty through her hard work, her intentionality and the deep well love that pours from her heart. She is truly heroic and I deeply cherish her friendship.

Her freedom story is far from finished and her journey still long. Still I am thankful to walk with her, to know and be known by her. To share life with someone who I am pretty sure will not only emerge as deeply restored but who will in the process restore those around her and maybe even change the world. Let it be so!