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Udaan (the flight to freedom)

ID:
3386

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Our goal
Save children from becoming sex workers!
The Challenge

:

Background

  • There are an estimated 1.2 M children of sex workers in India (UNICEF 2010 India Country Report)
  • Kolkata is the major hub of trafficking activities and for forcing women and children into Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
 

The Problem:

Inadequate current efforts: Not many NGOs have taken up this cause of rescuing these innocent girls because of the problems inherent in working in these areas.  They have the resources, but lack the will to venture into this territory. They are looking for someone to show them the way. 

Social stigma, no chance to escape: The children come from very low-income families and have no access even to basic facilities available to other children.  For example, even candy is often out of reach, because -shop owners refuse to sell to children  from the nearby district due to their mothers’ profession. The highest ambition these children aspire to is often "brothel owner" because this is the most powerful person they see in their lives.

We are working to change this and provide new hope for them.

Udaan Video 

The Solution:  We are already creating a “Safe Haven” for 100 girls from the Sonagachi red light area in Kolkata. This haven will be outside of the city.  In this secure haven they can lead normal childhoods, safely away from the real dangers of the flesh trade.

  • We intend  to provide boarding facilities with security guards within a walled compound.
  • This pilot “Safe Haven” can demonstrate that such efforts can be successful.
  • This will encourage other NGOs to take up the cause and  reach out to the remaining 1.2 million  "at risk" children across India
  • The plan involves building a secure house away from the red light area for the target age group is 5 – 18 yrs. and to provide them with a safe home, food, clothing, education, health care, vocational training & most importantly HOPE
  • We start by changing the lives of 50 girls.  The second phase will add another 50.   Compared to the 1.2 million total children at risk, this may seem like a small number, but we need to make a beginning somewhere.  Improving the lives of 50 and then 100 girls means a lot. These 50/100 girls will show the way to others in their situation.

 

What we have already accomplishedIt is obvious that this is a huge challenge considering that we are working against the interests of anti-social elements and other powerful economic interests. To counter this problem, building trust with the local sex-worker population was the first step and towards this effort we have:

  • Set up a day school for 25+ children to provide free education and food
  • Started a free yoga and meditation center in Sonagachi
  • Started a health clinic to address Public Health issues faced by the sex workers which include HIV, diabetes, hypertension and cardiac problems

We also have set up an advisory committee that includes prominent community leaders, politicians, police and social service personnel.

Thanks to early generous donors, the land has been purchased and construction has begun.  It was a gratifying and exhilarating day when we attended the groundbreaking ceremony (see pictures at my profile).

 

How it all began

The movie “Born into Brothels” created a raging aspiration to do something for the children born to sex workers in Sonagachi.(see Born into Brothels movie)

It was indeed providential that OVBI was approached by an ex-sex worker to do something for children of sex workers to prevent them from being forced into the trade.

It is all too common for young girls to be pumped with hormones as they entered the ages of 11-12 and then inducted into the profession of their mothers. These girls do not know any better and it was a natural rite of passage for them. On being asked about what they would like to be in the future, their responses ranged from the brothel madam, to police to doctor, the only people in their frame of reference.

Volunteers from OVBI thought that here was an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these girls, despite the challenges in front of them – Mafia, anti-social elements, politicians, etc., and “Udaan” was born.

We in the US started raising funds to meet the objective of finding a place to house the girls and then maintain them.

 

Expected Outcomes:  We start by changing the lives of 50 girls, going up to a 100 in the second phase.  Most of these girls will avoid sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV common in their mothers' profession. These girls will become a shining example of what is possible for the rest of the children that are trapped under similar circumstances. This may seem like a small number but we need to make a beginning somewhere and to us even improving the lives of 50 and then 100 girls means a lot. These 50/100 girls will then show the way to NGOs and others in their situation.  

 

Plan:  It is obvious that this is a huge challenge, considering that we are working against the interests of anti-social elements and other powerful economic interests. To counter this problem building trust with the local sex-worker population was the first step and towards this effort we have:

  • Set up a day school for 25+ children to provide free education and food
  • Started a free yoga and meditation center in Sonagachi
  • Started a health clinic to address Public Health issues faced by the sex workers which include HIV, Diabetes, Hypertension and Cardiac problems

 

We also have set up an advisory committee that includes prominent community leaders, politicians, police and social service personnel.

 

Progress to date

Progress update

As of today, we have raised $164,578 that has enabled us to acquire the land on which building construction started in December 2015. We have purchased about 48 kattas (34, 560 sq.ft.) land for the residential school, in Pailan, Kolkata. This land is located about 24km from Sonagachi and is close to the Indian Institute of Management, Joka, Kolkata.

OVBI President, Suresh Vasu with volunteers at the Ground-breaking ceremony

Land purchased at Pailan, Kolkata

Architectural depiction of proposed building

The first 2 floors of the building are scheduled to be ready by March 2017

.We need an additional USD21,000 to meet the following expenses:

  • Boundary wall - $12,400
  • Submersible pumps - $3,900
  • Generator set - $4,700

You can "buy" bricks of hope for the young girls -- each brick costs $20.  The requirement to meet the above expenses totals 1050 bricks.

We look forward to your support and updating you on our continuing implementation.  

You can be part of incredibly powerful and positive change in these lives 

Not only the first 50 lives, but the many that could follow.  Thank you so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See how far we've come

Our milestones
  • Mukta

  • Maya

  • Angela

  • Derek

  • Khevna

  • Ujjwala

  • Romi

  • Kamala

+21 MORE MEMBERS

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