Kolkata: For the first time since she was released by her abducters in Kabul, Kolkata girl Judith D’Souza spoke about her ‘ordeal’ and said she had feared for her life many times during her 44-day captivity but prayers, her faith and upbringing helped her through the dark hours.
Ms D’Souza has been going to Afghanistan to work since 2012, loved the country and wanted to do something for the people there.
The 40-year-old gender expert was working with the Aga Khan Foundation, when she was kidnapped on June 9. Her distraught family had appealed to the government for help. On July 23, she returned.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had tweeted support for the family right though its trial. After her return, the minister also took Ms D’Souza to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For the first time today, Ms D’Souza went to her school in Kolkata, Loreto Sealdah, where a special mass was held.
Between moving hymns and prayers by students and teachers, Judith related her experience in some detail. “I feared for my life many, many times… Prayers helped me to not lose hope. The abduction is now a part of my life now and I need to move on. That’s important,” she said.
The central and state government efforts were “very, very supportive,” she said. As for the Indian embassy in Kabul, “Hats off. Those guys rock,” she added.
During her incarceration, she had no idea about the worldwide support she was getting. Once she came back, her brother told her all about it, she said. “I was so overwhelmed by the support and solidarity people showed. It still has not sunk in… For me it reiterates my belief that we can transcend. We can transcend all these petty things — hate, intolerance, war, bloodshed…”
Judith was a student at Loreto school in Kolkata’s Sealdah area. Padmabhushan-winning educationist Sister Cyril was principal at the time. Though Sister Cyril has retired, she came today for the special mass. “We are so thankful that Judith is back,” she said. “We are very, very proud of her.”