Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas

 
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A sponsored trip to the water park!!
A sponsored trip to the water park!!

 

Dear Kranti Friends,

In these few weeks, we have all been VERY busy at Kranti (with four birthdays!) and also at school because we have exams. It has been only one month since we started school in India. Me, Sheetal and Pinky are studying in NIOS, which is National Institute of Open Schooling. This is for students who have not been to school regularly and can give the exam after they study.

We are also busy because in this month, a big Indian TV channel, NDTV, is making a documentary on Kranti. This means for two weeks, they are following us everywhere – classes, therapy, theatre, etc. The documentary will be on YouTube soon, so I will send a link when ready! 

In a few days, on 11 October, it is International Day of the Girl Child. We recognize this day in India because girls in India face so many problems, like early marriage, no education, trafficking, etc. On the 11th, Sheetal will be giving a speech about this year’s theme, “Innovation of Education.” Just today, one Indian newspaper wrote about Kranti for Day of the Girl Child. You can read it below.

We have also been busy because we Revolutionaries have started a new program for our mothers. Every month, we bring our mothers to Kranti for two days and one night. Here, we share stories, learn from each other and enjoy our time together. Next weekend we are doing the next mothers’ weekend and we will be talking to our mothers about gender inequality. I am responsible for planning this session and I am both excited and nervous. I am putting photos from our September mothers’ program.

And, of course, we have been traveling like always. We took 3 days to travel to central India where there are a lot of water problems because of flooding from dams and also the government is stealing farmers’ land. We met thousands of farmers, learned about their problems and got to travel by boat for two days! It was a big learning experience for all of us because in Mumbai we never know how many problems the rest of India is facing, especially poor farmers.

Our most exciting news, though….for Diwali, we are going to…are you ready??? We are going to BHUTAN!!! In case you don’t know, Bhutan is a small, neighboring country of India. It has only 700K people, and the capital, Timphu, has no traffic lights!  We are excited to visit such an interesting place. It is VERY strange for all of us Revolutionaries because we grew up in Mumbai, obviously one of the biggest and busiest cities of the world. Last year, we went to Kashmir, which was also very different for us. Just like we did in Kashmir, we will be trekking in the Himalayas, meditating at monasteries and visiting some NGOs. All togheter, we will be traveling 18 days. I promise to send photos of Bhutan in my next report.

Until then, I wish you all a happy Diwali (it is the biggest holiday in India, like Christmas in the USA) and I will write after we get back from Bhutan.

Hugs and thanks to all of you,
Laxmi (And all the Revolutionaries)

Swimming with moms!
Swimming with moms!
Family dinner with moms
Family dinner with moms
Sheetal and her mom
Sheetal and her mom
Visiting landless farmers
Visiting landless farmers
Rani turns 13!
Rani turns 13!

Links:

Me and Shweta in Rajasthan
Me and Shweta in Rajasthan

Dear Kranti Supporters,

Hi, my name is Laxmi Hosmani, I have been at Kranti for just over two years. I am the oldest Revolutionary and from now on, I will be writing updates for Global Giving. I am excited our work with you and happy that you are reading! For the past three months Kranti was on summer vacation. Here is what we have been busy with…

Do you know Shweta , Sheetal and myself we are traveling alone without our didi’s to Rajasthan for an internship?? This was Sheetal’s and my first internship. Before leaving Mumbai we were very scared, but in Kranti all my sisters gave us courage. After two days of traveling we finally reached Rajasthan. Starting two weeks we were so bored but finally we adjusted to that place, and we started to work there. We went to see a night school (balvadi) and we taught geography, we also played with them, we had lots of fun there. We also talked to the village people and we shared our story with them and they shared theirs. After 3 weeks, more interns came and we learned many things. The bhaiya’s and didi’s took us on tractors to the villages in pairs. We spent our whole night there, my topic there was livelihood, and I had to ask them what they do usually, their daily routine. In the morning we went to work in the dam. The villagers have been working on that dam for two months. They divided us into two, three groups and my group was working on mixing the cement. It was hard work!

In April we went to an internship in Himachal that was called Sambhavana, which means possibilities in Hindi. It was a very good internship.  There are many teenagers like us who came from others parts of India. That internship was about politics and environment. We had a such a good time there. There people were also kind and helpful. I saw many photos of Himachal and didn’t think it would be that beautiful, but when we arrived at Himachal it was more beautiful than the photos.  I saw many thing there like, birds and different butterflies. We jumped into the river everyday, the water was ice cold. We saw movie also. There were some construction work going on so our teacher divided us into groups and asked us to help out. We mixed cement and transported bamboo. We also made a camp fire there we sang songs. When we were singing my friend gave me a new name “google” because I knew so many songs. The program in Himachal was very different because the people we were with came from different backgrounds and had different opinions on the topics we discussed. We learned many new things.

On the 28th of June all the revolutionaries went to Thiruvanthapuram with our didi’s to visit Kanthari. Its an NGO where all blind people stay. We performed a drama but we knew that they cant see so thats why we performed like they can understand what is our message. We were  there for a few days. One day we all went to the beach,there were high waves because of the monsoon, and there was a  red flag on the beach. There was a policeman who didn’t allow us to go into the water, but we didn’t listen to the policeman  we all played in the water and Meena and Robin had such a huge fight with police. After some time we saw that there was a big crowd. we all shouted “revolutionaries came and beach is full of crowd, before there was no one.” In the water Saira and I were drowning and had to be saved. we were having such a good time in the water that we were late for dinner. Kanthari is an excellent NGO that I have ever visited. The people were so amazing and inspiring.

Thank you, Kranti supporters, for making all of these activities possible. I will be writing you again soon next month!

All the interns in Himachal at Sambhaavnaa
All the interns in Himachal at Sambhaavnaa
Revolutionaries on the beach in Trivandrum!
Revolutionaries on the beach in Trivandrum!

Links:

Pinky and Mom
Pinky and Mom

Dear Kranti Supporters,

I haven’t posted an update for a while because I am in a rural internship right now. But I’m writing to you to share some very important information – I have been accepted to Bard College in New York, I have my passport, and I am going to the USA in August to chase my dreams!

None of this would be possible without the most important person in my life – my mother. She was the one listened to me and was always by my side. When I was a child, I told my dad about going to America and studying there - my dad made fun of me. But my mother told me I could do it and that I had the ability to do it. She's the one who believed in me. She encouraged me to do different things like going to dance class and learn English. My dad was always angry about me going out or going to dance classes. He never allowed me to do these things. But my mother did everything she could possibly do to keep me safe, especially when people called me an “ugly dark girl.” My dad even told me that “nobody is going to marry you because you are ugly and dark; your heart is as dark as your skin colour.” I felt really bad that day and was crying but my mum was there to support me. She was the one that told me I was beautiful.

She always helped me make big decisions, and staying away from my family was my first big decision. She said “Shweta, I believe in you; whatever you'll decide, I know that it's for your own good. Don't worry, just do whatever you think is right.” In the second biggest decision of my life, taking a gap year, she wasn't convinced – she thought I was wasting a year – but she didn't prevent me from doing it. And now I'm going to be away from home for four years and she's still encouraging me and inspiring me. I have the best mother in the world!

Here is a video of me and my mother on the local news!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf-VrJQlTcU

 

Thoughts from other Revolutionaries: 

Sheetal: My mum is everything for me. It's because of her I'm here – at Kranti, in the world. She always loves me a lot. In my sorrows, in my joys, in my successes, she's always there for me. If my mum is not there, there is nothing in my life. My mum is the only person who can understand me. Nobody in the world can understand us better than our mums, and even if my mum doesn't agree with my decisions, she still supports me. Here is a video of me talking about my mother!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppbCCu16Fho

Laxmi: In Hindi ma is just one character, but its meaning is immeasurable. I can't explain it. The word has no end. My mum is really loving. She has had a lot of problems and troubles in her life, but she still taught me the best ethics possible. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful mother!

Pinky: I miss my mother a lot because she lives in Kolkata, I see her for just a couple hours every six months. I try to remember happy memories of when I lived with her and I hope we will have a good future together some day. Here is a picture of me and my mother!

 So – Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who make sacrifices so their children can have a better future than they had. :)

Sincerely,
Shweta

Links:

My photo in Newsweek!
My photo in Newsweek!

Dear Kranti Supporters,

It has been a busy two weeks as always!

First of all, I would like to announce that Newsweek magazine chose me as one of the “25 Under 25 Young Women to Watch” last week!! You can see it here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/galleries/2013/03/29/women-in-the-world-25-under-25-young-women-to-watch-photos.html#906f5b4b-0997-4931-a41c-ac1db74fd614

I am very excited to be chosen with so many amazing girls and women doing so many wonderful things for society!!

We have a volunteer, Rohit, who comes every Monday and teaches two hours sessions on Social Justice Issues. Last Monday, we went to watch 2 documentaries. A Pinch of Skin is a short documentary on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. According to their website it is “a film on betrayal of innocent girls, perpetuated by a deep-seated social more, how medieval cruelty invades modern, educated homes, even today.” We learnt so many things from this movie we didn’t even know such thing happens in India. We knew about female genital mutilation in Africa. But in Rohit bhaiya’s (bhaiya means brother, it is what we call our male teachers and volunteers) session we have also talked about rituals and practices in different religions in India and all over the world.

This Monday, we surprised the staff by giving them story books we wrote and illustrated, a homework assignment from Rohit bhaiya. We enjoyed it, one day we were working until 3 o’clock in the morning! Yeah, our own books, sounds amazing right? I always wanted to write a book and my dream came true with the help of Rohit. He showed us a photo of a young boy and a man and asked us to think what the photo is about and what we think. We shared our ideas and then connected it with social issue that affects us. Later he told us that they were father and son in the photo. He then told us to write a story on that photo and the story should end on the photo.

The most exciting thing I did this week was attend – and present! – at The Goa Project Conference. I was the youngest speaker at the conference. I was really nervous at the time but when I started talking, the nervousness automatically disappeared. I did a workshop with our audience called the ‘sex worker’s life maze’. We asked them to become a rural, marginalized, illiterate 16-year-old girl and gave them situation where they had to make choices. Afterward, I facilitated a discussion where everyone shared their different views and thoughts. I asked them to share why they made the choices they made and how they felt. In those ten minutes they had been through the situations that most sex workers face. After that maze I shared my experiences growing up in the red light area. Everyone liked the workshop. They praised me and Katie (who “assisted” me) for the work Kranti is doing. It was a great experience for me I learnt different things about myself; I asked Katie “where I was mistaken and what should I improve?” she said that I talk so fast and don’t finish the sentence and jump on the other sentence, so I am trying to improve this. But I know that I am very lucky compared to any 18-year-old in the world to have so many speaking offers and opportunities. Since I get to speak on for my community so much, it is very important to me to represent them well.

Since I am taking a gap year right now I do not have exams, but the rest of the Revolutionaries have exams going on and all are studying hard. The youngest Revolutionary had a science fair at her school, the first time she and other students have ever had a chance to show their work to family and friends. Pictures below! After exams end, we will have 10 days of art workshop such as painting, sketching, sculpture, photography because there are three German volunteers here who want to teach us many types of art. Since school will finish this week, starting next week we will be doing only art and extracurricular activities like swimming, dance, guitar, drums, drawing. And of course finally sleeping! :)

I am still working on my passport and I hope to have it next week. But the people who made these laws, it is like they want to prevent poor, undocumented people from having passports. But I will beat the system and I will get my passport one way or another!! I hope all of you are doing well and thank you, as always, for supporting Kranti’s work and helping us achieve our dreams. 

Sincerely, Shweta

Sum
Sum's Science Fair Team
Sum
Sum's Science Fair Project - Natural Dyes
A different type of studying...
A different type of studying...

Links:

Hanging out before the performance
Hanging out before the performance

“I’m so scared, I don’t know what’s gonna happen!!” 12-year-old Sumaiya was near tears as we were getting ready in the bathroom. I hugged her and said, “It’s fine, we are going to be wonderful!” It was Kranti’s first public dance performance on 17 March at an event to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. As the choreographer and coordinator, I was having mixed feelings: excitement and fear. We turned our heads as the door banged open – Robin entered and said “They’ve moved you up, you need to be on stage in 5 minutes!” We grabbed our makeup, Kranti tattoos and extra clothes and sprinted from the bathroom, dodging between rickshaws as we crossed the street.

When we reached the stage, it seemed like EVERYBODY was starting at us. And they were – we had already been announced! Robin got onstage and introduced Kranti. The rest of us were still scared, and I was also a little excited. We all climbed on the stage, nervous and shaking, but then suddenly the music, and excitement ran through my body. As we started dancing, the crowd that had been small 5 minutes ago started growing by dozens! Everyone was cheering for us.…our coordination was a little off, but we were full of energy. Most importantly, our little angel Sumaiya was incredibly good on stage, she left behind all her fear and danced with her heart for her first dance performance in public. The special thing about this dance performance was that we (Revolutionaries) choreographed this dance without any outsider’s help. It was a HUGE success!! There is a link below if you haven’t already watched….why haven’t you watched?? (Like us on Facebook to see all of our videos: http://www.facebook.com/kranti.india)  

The other exciting thing happening at Kranti is that summer vacations are coming and Kranti’s staff have planned so many ways to get rid of us so they can have a staff retreat. The two youngest girls are visiting their village for 2 weeks then going to camps. We older girls are applying to 3 internships in India’s rural areas that will build our leadership abilities while learning about social problems. You can read about them here:

http://www.sambhaavnaa.org/programs

http://www.pravah.org/content/SMILE

I am applying for scholarships for a program called Semester at Sea, where I was accepted for Summer 2013 trip to visit 10 different countries! Also, staff and all of us are working hard to get passports made. Especially my passport, everyone is helping me (even the local politicians!) because I am trying to go on Semester at Sea and study in America next year.

Well this was our story and plans for summer vacations, what about you? Have you planned your summer vacations if not then get started soon! Also, a Happy Holi in advance, look out for photos in our next report!

Sincerely,

Shweta

P.S. Robin just told me that summer vacation does not start in America until May or June. Ours starts in early April and we go back to school in June. So I hope you are planning your spring breaks then instead!    

Before we were nervous!
Before we were nervous!
Staff making a living selling our handmade cards!
Staff making a living selling our handmade cards!
Robin introducing Kranti
Robin introducing Kranti

Links:

About Project Reports

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Organization

Kranti

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
http://www.kranti-india.org

Project Leader

Robin Chaurasiya

Mumbai, Maharashtra India

Where is this project located?