Students listening closely to a Prajwala Talk
The following is a postcard from Neeharika Tummala, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in India and Bangladesh, about her recent visit to PRAJWALA.
As part of the holistic effort in the fight against sex trafficking, Prajwala also does the tough work of community awareness where the Prajwala program team travels to various districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to speak to young girls about how trafficking happens, how it can happen to anyone and why they need to be careful.
I had the incredible opportunity to travel with the program team to see what it is like and how they do it. The district we went to was the East Godavari district, a place that is green and beautiful with lush coconut fields. It is also the district with one of the highest rates of trafficking, so it is even more important to reach these girls. I learned that this state is also a spot for a lot of film shootings, due to its lush greenery, and has seen the rise of junior tv artists as well as film actors. So a common way of trafficking girls has been luring them in with the promise of opportunities in media.
Regardless, the Prajwala team is armed with great videos, personal stories and passionate speakers, who work to grab the attention of these girls and hopefully infuse them with caution. I closely observed girls at 6 schools and hostels. They usually start off with lots of excitement as to them it is just a break from their usual school or hostel routine. But eventually as the context of the video starts to set in, the expressions of these young girls faces change to seriousness, sadness, shock and even disgust, as they digest the journey of innocent girls and how they are forced to transform in the red light districts. While the videos are impactful, easily the best part is the personal account of one of the survivors who was brave enough to recount her personal story. Her story, delivery and bravery were so incredible that I had goosebumps, and I think so did many girls in that audience. After her presentation, we had tons to girls come up to her to shake her hand and thank her for her story. It was a beautiful moment.
The team also invites local press members to attend and hopefully cover it in their local newspaper, so that the news spreads across the district and they have more geographic coverage.
Another incredible program that I got to witness is the Men Against Demand (MAD) awareness program. It involves literally putting a projector in crowded areas such as bus stands and markets, so as to gather the attention of a crowd and do a presentation. The presentation is gripping and requires engaging the crowd with a lot of confidence and passion, as the crowd includes people like rickshaw drivers, drunkards and people who can even become violent. Luckily we had a pretty good crowd with us and it was amazing to see the Prajwala team tackle such sensitive topics so openly.
Post video discussion
Signing up a Prajwala Volunteer Group
Reflecting after seeing the video
Taking the Prajwala oath