Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas

 
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Invite to Natya Bharati, D.C. Performance
Invite to Natya Bharati, D.C. Performance

It’s a dream come true, Kranti’s U.S. tour. When Robin (Kranti’s co-founder) told me about her idea of doing a tour around the states with all the Krantikaris, I was like, “Are you kidding me?” I seriously didn’t believe we could do something like that, but then I forgot it's Robin - she can pull off anything of course, even if that means no sleep for months.

All the Krantikaris had been working on a play, Lal Batti Express (which in English means Red Light Express) for months, and now it was time to bring it alive on U.S. platforms. I still remember sitting with Robin near the U.S. consulate and waiting to get all the visas. We had all our flights the next morning and were still missing few visas - we had no idea of how it was all going to work out, but I had faith, because this same thing happened to me two years back when I was first flying to U.S. I got my U.S. student visa 1 ½hours before my flight! In the end it worked out for the Krantikaris too, and the next day Lal Batti Express boarded the plane and took off for NYC.

I had been in NYC many times by myself, and this time everyone was there: my mom, my sisters, and the whole Kranti family. It was whole different experience seeing New York City with everyone and I loved it.

After NYC we travelled to DC, then Chicago. We LOVED deep dish pizza in Chicago (but NYC is still my favorite place ;) ). In these cities we performed our play and also went sightseeing. After Chicago we went to Yellowstone, where we got to go river rafting and saw hot springs - it is truly magical to see the things that exist on this planet. I am scared of water, but I dared to go river rafting because A) there is no option of not going at Kranti and B) Dar Ke Agge Jeet hai - facing fears only makes you stronger. After Yellowstone we went to San Francisco, and finally to LA. All these cities were great and I loved them.

The best part of going to all these cities is that we got to perform on very different platforms. In NYC we performed at GEMS, which works with trafficked girls in NYC. We got to share our stories with the people who had similar stories, and we felt very connected. In DC we performed in a juvenile jail where all the girls were our age. In Chicago we performed at the famous Field Museum on an open platform. People stopped by and saw our play, some laughed but kept going and had a wonderful experience. In San Francisco we performed at Google, can you imagine that? Google was something I had not even thought of, and it has its own Indian restaurant... I mean seriously, who has an Indian restaurant in their U.S. office?! The food was delicious. And you know where we performed next? Facebook! Those were the days I did not believe anything was real. In LA we performed at CBS studios; we also performed in a Hindu temple and it was beautiful.

My life on the Lal Batti Express was very exciting, it was an amazing experience for me and all the Krantikaris. Thank you sooooo much to everyone who donated to make this possible. We learned so much about the world and ourselves, and we got to teach others about our lives... all thanks to you!

After the Performance at the Facebook Office
After the Performance at the Facebook Office
House Full at the Chicago Performance
House Full at the Chicago Performance
Attending Pride Parade at San Francisco
Attending Pride Parade at San Francisco
At the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.
At the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.

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Selfie at our Xmas/New Year home!
Selfie at our Xmas/New Year home!

Dear Kranti Friends,

Can you believe 1/12th of 2015 is already done? I can’t! Life is so, so busy, sometimes I feel very old. :) But I am 17. My name is Asmita Katti, but everyone call me Ashi. I am so happy for 2015 because this year many many big things will happen, for me and for Kranti. This year I am going to finish 12th! That is biggest thing...but November and December were so exciting at Kranti, we are all excited for what 2015 will bring.

During winter break many people travel to hot places. But Mumbai is already hot...so we Krantikaris travel to cold places! This winter we went to Himachal Pradesh, which is the second most north state in India and it is the foothills of the Himalayas.  For one week, we stayed at an old monastery and our theatre teacher came from Delhi to teach us theatre....from 7am everyday to 7pm! At 7pm it was soooo dark and cold that we all stayed under our blankets and told ghost stories. Except for one day – we started at 5am because a secret donor paid for allllll of us to go paragliding! (Photo and video below.)

After that we went to a science camp that is made for kids who do not have very good science in school. We all studied in red-light area school and we always thought we hate science. But in four days of science camp we did so many amazing things, making catapults, opening electronics, operating machines...we all learn that we don’t hate science, we hate how our school teaches science. We are all looking for more interesting ways to learn science in Mumbai!

And lastly, one of the Krantikaris left us for a few months – Kavita left on 6 Jan to sail Semester at Sea, a university program on a ship that sails 12 countries in five months. The ship will come to India in March so we hope to see her. Like all of us Krantikaris, it was very hard for Kavita to get her passport, visas, etc. But then one journalist wrote about her and she was on the front page of a national newspaper! Then lotttsss of journalists started calling and many people offered their help, like Bollywood actresses and Mumbai’s politicians! Anyway, we are sad for her to go but very happy for her journey.

I think “thank you” can never say enough for all the amazing people we have in our lifes. We are soooo lucky to have so many supporters like you around the world, most we never met but you support us and our dreams always. I never, never thought I will go paragliding, but now I am so confident that I can do anything...I am even ready to skydive someday! :) I hope all of you are having a wonderful, wonderful 2015. I hope all year is filled with family, friends and happiness for you!

Love,
Ashi

 

Yes it was THAT cold!
Yes it was THAT cold!
Flying!! Just for 20 minutes. :)
Flying!! Just for 20 minutes. :)
Kavita with her passport and Morocco visa
Kavita with her passport and Morocco visa

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Happy Hellos at Airport
Happy Hellos at Airport

Hi Kranti Friends, 

My name is Taniya and I am one of Kranti's Revolutionaries! I just start 11th grade and I am 18. Everyone at Kranti says I am a little bit crazy, but I think I am very sweet. :) I think you know that at Kranti every girl has chance to write Global Giving reports and I am writing for last two months. I think I can give summary in one sentence if you do not want to read so much: KRANTI IS LIKE AN AIRPORT.

But I would like to share with you what is happening in Kranti because it was very exciting 2-3 months! We Krantikaris call ourselves change agents, and many people thing change is hard. But sometimes at Kranti we see real change, so we know change is hard but it is possible. I think the last few months Kranti's biggest change is all the places we went and people we met - nobody has ever met girls from red-light areas before and nobody thinks we are "normal" people who are equal. So at Kranti, because we go for many programs, we meet people from all over India and the world and they change their mind about girls like us after they meet us.

For example, me and another Revolutionary, Kavita, were so lucky to spend June and July traveling all India. We went to three programs - one in Patna (conservative north India) where we learn about women's rights, one in Himachal (mountain area with tribal people) about inner reflection, and one in Goa (nice beach with many foreigners) about religion and caste in India. At all these programs, we were the first people who were from red-light area to ever come for these trainings. Everyone said to us, "Wow we never knew kids like you are so strong and brave," some people said "Now I don't think bad about sex workers," etc. I feel very proud when people say things like this!

Also last two months were exciting because everyone was coming home from somewhere. In summer, Kranti feel a little empty, but when school is starting, everyone come back. Two Revolutionaries, Sapna (18) and Sheetal (19) went to a program in India's first alternative university. Rani and Sumaiya, both 13, went to American summer camps and they came home. Me and Sheetal had birthdays in August, and we celebrate Sheetal's birthday AT the airport! :)  

But…I kept our most exciting news for last! Actually we have two very amazing, exciting news! 

1.) Our oldest Revolutionary, Sheetal, has been selected to attend a one year drum program in America!!! She just left to America this week and she is stay 4 days in New York with Shweta before going to DC, where she will take classes at American University and Levine Music School. (If you want donate for her program, she has her own GG page.)

2.) One of the Revolutionaries, Shweta, who is studying New York will get the UN Youth Courage Award this week! We are very very excited for her! To tell the truth, do not know what the UN is. But I know Malala got the same award, and I know she is awesome. So Shweta is also awesome. :)

That is all, I hope you enjoy reading about Krantikaris and our summer. Thank you so, so much for all of your help. We are doing awesome things, but we can do because you feed and clothe us with your donations. :) 

Love,
Taniya

Teary Goodbyes at the Airport (Sheetal
Teary Goodbyes at the Airport (Sheetal's Mom)
Birthdays at the Airport
Birthdays at the Airport
Passing Time at the Airport
Passing Time at the Airport
A Birthday at Home!
A Birthday at Home!
Sheetal playing drums
Sheetal playing drums

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Sumaiya with her passport! :)
Sumaiya with her passport! :)

Hi Kranti Supporters,

I am Rani, 13, one of the youngest Revolutionaries. This is my first time to write a Global Giving report, and my English is not so great, so please read with patience. :) I want to tell you about the amazing, amazing summer we had at Kranti! I know for some countries, summer is just starting but in Asia our summer is over…because now the monsoon starts and school starts with the rain. Anyway, summer is gone, and we did just one thing alllll summer – go to summer camps!

The Kranti didis like to keep us busy. (Didi means big sister in Hindi – we call Kranti staff didis but they old enough to be aunty, not sister!) :) The didis think we will sit at home and annoy them all day, so they are always sending us to new places. In May, me and Sumaiya, the other 13-year-old Revolutionary, went to Bangalore for a water conservation camp. In this camp, we visit many slums, learn about city’s water problems and think of new ideas to save more water. Me and Sumaiya were the only kids not from Bangalore and everyone was soooo impress by us because we travel alone from Mumbai to Bangalore and then home. I was very happy too it was my first time to travel alone.

The older Revolutionaries went to other camps and trainings: two girls went to women’s rights training, two went to a Religion in India program with all international students and the oldest Revolutionary got to fly to a one week program about education for poor kids in India. I think our didis are right – we are learning just because we are traveling, meeting so many different people and going to these programs. All my school friends are having boring summer watching TV!

When we finish all these camps, we alllll went together for a camp that was run by Kranti! It was one week and it was in a very beautiful place, just under the Himalayas! (Photos below.) The camp was have 30 girls, all daughters of sex workers or from red-light areas. So for one week we learned much from each other, shared our stories, and had really fun classes. We even had secret angels or somebody secret who did nice things for us all week then on last day we find out who is our secret angel. We also had boring classes, like yoga and meditation! But it was very fun to meet so many girls with life stories and problems like mine. I hope we can see each other again.

And most exciting news I saved for last….me and Sumaiya are both going to international camps for one month!! I leave in two days and go for music and dance program in the US, and Sumaiya goes to UK for one month of English programs. Just like our water conservation camp, we were the only kids not from Bangalore, in both camps we will be the only Indians. I am soooo soooo soooo excited! But we are having many passport problems, and someone even wrote about our problems in the newspaper. So me and Sumaiya are excited that we are famous even before camp started. :)

Now you know all about Kranti’s summer! I hope your summer was good if it is done, and if it is starting I hope you have great summer. And if you have kids, please send them to fun camps and spend good time with them. I feel so lucky to have didis who do so much for us and spend so much time with us…I hope everyone is lucky to have such wonderful family. (We fight a lot too because Sumaiya steals my clothes and returns them without washing. It is a BIG problem at Kranti.) But we still have wonderful time together, laughing, traveling and fighting.

So thank you, every one of you who donates to Kranti, for making all these camps and everything else possible. I hope you will keep supporting us for many years!

Love,
Rani

Our workshop site in Himalayas
Our workshop site in Himalayas
Me and with my aunty in Himachal Pradesh
Me and with my aunty in Himachal Pradesh
Kavita at Sambhaavna Institute, Himachal Pradesh.
Kavita at Sambhaavna Institute, Himachal Pradesh.

Dear Kranti supporters,

I would like to introduce myself- I am Kavita. Hosmani, the newest revolutionary of Kranti. I am 19 years old and have just finished my 12th grade. I am hoping that being part of Kranti, I will be able to study further. At the moment, I take many classes to improve my English, as well as attend Dance Movement Therapy and Theatre classes with the rest of the revolutionaries. I am going to share with you the many things that we have done in the last few months.  

To begin with, we have been having a series of classes on social justice topics such as poverty, gender, sexuality, human rights, capitalism, colonialism, religion and many more. This has given me the chance to understand the society that I live in again and also, to learn from the other revolutionaries about the issues they have faced in their lives such as discrimination and marginalization.

In January, one of our revolutionaries, Asmita Katti attended the Indian Youth Jam Training 2014 in Bangalore, where she learnt had the chance to meet with participants from all over India. She, also, listened to many change-makers about their stories, and how they are making the world a better place slowly. Even I attended a training in Himachal Pradesh to learn about community media. I am particularly fascinated by how local communities are setting up local radio stations to communicate and discuss local issues.

As part of Kranti’s work is to support LGBT rights, we took part in the pride march to protest the Supreme Court’s judgement to recriminalize homosexuality. During the march, we met with people from different NGOs and it was nice to see the LGBT community working together.

Since LGBT rights is so important to us, we discussed it in our play ‘Humans of Kamathipura’. This play was performed in many places since January such as the Goa Project 2014, Ink Women and FICCI Frames 2014. The audience loved our work and we kept having people coming and talk to us about our performance. It felt so good when people came and told us nice things about our work- it gave us confidence to continue with our theatre project.

Also, Shweta Katti, the first girl from Mumbai’s redlight area to go and study at a US university, came down to India. She gave a talk on her experiences and her life at TEDxNMIMS- we are waiting for the TEDx video to come out on Youtube so that we can share it with you.

So many things are happening in our lives and we are extremely excited. Thank you from all of us for your generosity, and we hope you will continue to support us.

 

Thank you,

Kavita.H

Krantikaries at INK Women 2014
Krantikaries at INK Women 2014
Krantikaries at The Goa Project 2014
Krantikaries at The Goa Project 2014
When Shweta Katti came to Mumbai...
When Shweta Katti came to Mumbai...

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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?