The ASSET center in Mumbai was opened earlier this year. The center is located in a dilapidated government school building- in the heart of Kamathipura- Mumbai's red light district! Businesses all around the school including stalls selling everything from cigarettes, vegetables, magazines to phone shops with copiers are controlled by the same people that control the sex trade.
For some unknown reason, the ASSET center and the students that come for the training are left alone.
The results from this center are most gratifying. Students have been placed in jobs that pay well enough to keep the students to stay out of the sex trade.
Photos of the students and placement data are in the attachment.
We are in negotiations with three companies that have Rural BPOs in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Our aim is to include the skill requirements of these companies in training so that placement after completion of the training will be easy.
Pat Loewi, an ASSET supporter was in Delhi recently and she has created a documentary which contains interviews with students and parents at the ASSET center in Delhi. The link will be posted here as well as the ASSET India Foundation website shortly.
I highly recommend the book "Half the Sky" by NY Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. One of the issues the authors describe is the terrible plight of girls sold into prostitution in India.
Note from Sheryl Wudunn:
From: Sheryl WuDunn
Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 10:15 PM
Keep up the great work. ASSET is working in an area that needs so much help, so I"m very gratified to hear about what you do. Your daughter must be a remarkable woman. My hearty congratulations to you and to her for all the work that ASSET does.
Challenges we are addressing:
1. Partner organizations do not address hardware problems in a timely fashion.
2. Every time a PC breaks down, a new replacement PC is expected.
3. Since ASSET requires that each batch consist of 20 students, slum children that don not meet ASSET guidelines are recruited.
4. In order to financially sustain the ASSET project over the long run, I would like to have the students take out microfinance loans to pay their tuition of Rs. 2,500 ( < $60). The plan is to have them repay the loan within 6 months of getting employment. All the students we have placed in jobs so far earn between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 4,000. In India when something is given for free, people doubt its value. Since this is a non-traditional Microfinance application,
I have not been successful so far in a tie-up with a microfinance lender.