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Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas

by Kranti
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Empower Future Leaders from Mumbai Red-Light Areas
Our mothers in Andaman with us
Our mothers in Andaman with us

Namaste everyone! Wishing you all a very, very, VERY happy new year, wherever you are I wish this year brings a lot of love and happiness in your life. :) I hope you had a wonderful holiday for Christmas and New Year. Did you do anything exciting?

 

At Kranti as normal we had a lot of crazy adventures, and of course a few misadventures also! The number one best part of the winter break was that we got to go somewhere new, exciting and very very beautiful….Andaman Islands!!! Normally it takes three days by ship from Chennai to reach Andaman, but for some reason there were no ships running alllll December. And this should have been a hint for us that we should not go. But because we are Kranti, we decided to go. Even though there were no ships, Robin (co-founder of Kranti) asked her sister for help, and she sponsored our flights to go! And I can honestly it was the MOOOOSTTT beautiful place I have seen in my life! But that’s not even the best part...you know what’s the best part? It’s because many of the Kranti girls mothers came on the trip too! So for many of them it was their first time on a flight, their first time away from housework, and the best part, their first time NOT listening or answering to any men! :) It was so nice to see the mothers playing in the water like kids, trying new things like snorkeling, and (shockingly) taking even more selfies than the Kranti girls!! We spent a lot of time together reflecting on the last year and also planning for 2019. Here are a few questions for you that we discussed in our meetings.

 

  1. What is something you did this year that you’ll remember for the rest of your life?
  2. What did you spend time on last year that gave you the most peace, joy, or happiness?
  3. What was your gift to the world this year?
  4. What were three nice things you did last year for someone else?
  5. What were three nice things someone else did for you?
  6. Which three people are you most grateful for this year and why?
  7. What are you ready to forgive or let go of from last year?
  8. What are three things you will do for your mental, physical, and emotional health next year?
  9. What is one fear you’d like to overcome in 2019?
  10. At the end of 2019, how do you want to describe your year?

 

Hope it gives you an idea of the meetings and discussions over winter break! It was a wonderful way to ring in the new year, discussing our past year and planning/dreaming together.

 

Then there was the not-so-good part of the trip! There is a well known spiritual leader in India who wanted to hold an event and fundraiser for sex workers, so he invited girls and women from red-light areas all over the country to come for the event. So from Andaman, we headed off to Ayodhya...if you’ve heard of this place, it’s probably because it’s infamous as igniting Hindu-Muslim riots all over the country. It was a very interesting experience for all of us girls, one because we are all used to living in big cities and it was a small town, and two, because...well...everyone there treated us TERRIBLY. While the spiritual leader wanted to help sex workers improve their lives, it seemed the rest of the town wanted to make sure they stay as oppressed as possible! We were forced to sit in a place sanctioned for sex workers, we were served food separately so that “normal people wouldn’t have to worry about the sex workers’ diseases.” It was a shock, to say the least. But this is life at an NGO….we have to do a lot of strange things for the hopes of some financial support!  The good news, of course, is that this experience made us all the more grateful for all of you. Thank you sooooo much for continuing to support Kranti’s work, and for not treating us like second (or third!) class citizens in exchange for your donation!!

 

And then, the best part...we started Kranti School full time again!! We had been on break because so many girls were in boarding school or studying in university, so the girls at home were doing internships and volunteer work. But now we have school full time...and sometimes it’s more than full time!! Just to give you an idea, here’s our daily schedule: We wake up around 8 to do chores (washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms), then we all do yoga at 9am, breakfast/shower at 10, and start school at 11. The first hour is 20 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of journaling, then 20 minutes of writing gratitude letters (it can be to friends, donors, mentors - anyone!). The next hour is spent on looking at Reuters Day in Photos, 20 minutes of logic puzzles like solving cryptograms or sudoku, and 20 creative thinking exercises - like building a newspaper parachute to drop an egg from our window on the 6th floor! Then we read aloud and do reading comprehension worksheets for an hour. The rest of the day is taken up by Music Mondays, TED Talk Tuesdays, Worldly Wednesdays, Thinking Thursdays, and Field Trip Fridays. It’s super fun but also super exhausting...we are up to our ears in homework and logic puzzles!! (If you want to know more about Kranti School, you can watch the video below!)

 

Okay, I have to get back to my homework!! But thank you so much for reading this. Like I said, we all have a very, very deep appreciation for all of you “strangers” around the world who keep supporting us and making our lives possible despite never having met us. And for accepting us for who we are without any judgement. May this new year bring you the same - lots of support, joy, laughter, and unconditional love. :)


With gratitude,

Ashwini

Mahek
Mahek's facebook cover photo ;)
French Musicians @KrantiSchool
French Musicians @KrantiSchool

Links:

Hello everyone, how are you? My name is Danish and I’m 20, I’ve been at Kranti for almost four years now. I study in the US but I had to take a break this semester due to fundraising issues, so I’m living at Kranti, studying part-time, and working part-time. I’m excited to write Kranti’s GG report because a lot of exciting and amazing things were happening in the last three months...let me walk you through a couple of them. :)

Our most favorite thing that happened very recently in September, which was our visitors from the Crooked Trails, a voluntourism group from America. What do you expect when you hear “voluntourism”? Young people trying to change the world, right? We thought the same. But guess what?? The youngest person among them was 33 years old, and the oldest was 67 years old -- she had seven grandchildren!!! We really had a fun time with them taking them around Mumbai like a tour to Hare Krishna temple in Juhu, as well as Haji Ali, a famous Sufi shrine that’s a 15-min walk into the ocean! And later, we took them to the Bollywood movie about trafficking and for some Mumbai street shopping! All of them were so open and friendly - they would sit on the floor with us, eat with their hands, and they even tried to learn our dance moves! We were so, so incredibly inspired by them, that even in this age they have a very much zeal to learn things and to explore different cultures and the countries. Spending time with them really taught us that there is no such thing as “too old” to learn!

The second most interesting things that happened was that in July, we went with two Tibetan Buddhist monks to a small Dalit Buddhist village, Sakharwadi. We spent time with the community in their beautiful, organic, bamboo open-air center with inverted roofs! The monks led a small mindfulness meditation practice and taught us about the differences and similarities between neuroscience and Buddhist philosophy.

And lastly, on a completely different note, the MOST special thing that happened to us and to our country was on 6 September 2018. For those of you who are not in India, you might not have heard of “377,” which is an act that criminalizes the sex lives of LGBTQI people. After many, many years of legal struggle, 377 was finally overturned on 6 September!!! As Kranti, we have been to many pride parades and 377 protests over the years. We see a lot of connection between the way queer people are treated and sex workers are treated in this country and we think it’s important to fight for everyone’s rights together. So for all of us, it was such an amazing thing to see the battle for 377 finally won!! (The photo above is from a protest four years ago!)

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you also had an interesting summer! I am still in India for another three months and trying to enjoy and study hard, but I’m also dying to get back to the US. Thank you so much for continuing to support me, Kranti, and all the girls in general. We are so grateful to our donors every single day and can’t thank you enough for making our lives possible. Thank you, and take care.

Sincerely,
Danish

Cooking for the Crooked Trails team!
Cooking for the Crooked Trails team!
Learning about a day in the life of a sex worker
Learning about a day in the life of a sex worker
Sharing life stories with Crooked Trails team...
Sharing life stories with Crooked Trails team...
Visiting a Dalit Buddhist village with monks!
Visiting a Dalit Buddhist village with monks!
Learning about the Dalit village
Learning about the Dalit village's "inverted roof"
Good Night Sleep Tight ;) BWF@Kranti
Good Night Sleep Tight ;) BWF@Kranti

HI! My name is Shraddha, I am 18, and I have been at Kranti for three years. My best friend Rani and I have just completed 12th exams from National Institute of Open School, April was a very hectic month for Rani and me. And I took responsibility to write update for this time.

As Taniya wrote in her last update we went to Kashmir in December, it was so much fun!! We had visited this Borderless World Foundation in Srinagar and we promised to bring to our home in Mumbai. We did not think how we will bring them to Mumbai but somehow, they finally came. We were all so happy! There was so much mess because they missed their flight because of heavy snow and we were worried if they will able to come. But they finally landed and the first thing we did was to took them to dinner at our favourite food place in Mumbai.

And so it began, we had planned so many things for them, we took them to watch Padman (a movie about a man who makes pads!), we saw four or five plays including Vagina Monologues, we went to water park, we visited ten different NGOs, did a tour of Dharavi which is Asia’s largest slum, we took them around Mumbai’s best sites in the local train. They would be very exhausted every day but of course they loved it. Something I saw when organizing everything for them, Robin was asking for help to everyone we knew, we had very little money but it was like magic how everyone came forward to help like a community. Everyone wanted to do something for them, many invited them for dinner at their homes. It was amazing to see Mumbai pulling together resources for them, I felt very lucky. We all girls were also getting tired by running around the city but their happiness was so valuable and rewarding for us. They didn’t want to leave and all of them cried when leaving…it was like a real Bollywood movie when the train was pulling out of the station and we were holding hands through the window, crying and screaming! :)

In March we again travelled to Hyderabad to perform Lal Batti Express play. After the trip everyone went back to their schedule, Taniya started her Zumba class which she is very happy and excited for since she became an instructor. Shweta has been recovering from TB but is getting back to normal, she went to ten days meditation retreat and after she came back she joined Comprehensive Sexuality Education course at TISS, Mumbai. After my exams Rani, Ashwini, Lata and I went to Arariya a small village near  the Nepal border for internship. The organization is called Jan Jagriti Shakti Sanghatan and we visited many different villages and played games/activities because the children didn’t go to school so we taught through games. When we visited villages, we stayed at their place, they didn’t know us but they gave us space and food for the night. The whole internship was a new experience and so much learning for us to leave our comfort zone.

By the time we returned from our internships, Danish, Farah and Sandhya came back from US, it was summer holidays for them. We were very excited to see them because it was after one year they were coming back home. After a whole year the house was full, many emotions were coming for all of us but everyone of us was grateful for one thing – we all had a home to come back to or even place we can call home and people we call family. We have had several meetings since to re-connect and learn from each other’s experiences because all of us were living different and individual lives, there are conflicts between us of course but as a family we are working together to build a healthy and happy space for all us.

If you are reading this, I would like you to take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate what you have right now in this moment, many times we are lost in thinking about ‘what we don’t have’ but it is only lighter to think about the things we have and cherish them. We are grateful to YOU, contributing to our work only shows how much you care, many of you don’t know us personally but yet have faith and continue to be part of our lives. THANK YOU!

Kabir Cafe@Kranti
Kabir Cafe@Kranti
@ArariyaInternship
@ArariyaInternship
games with kids@Arariya
games with kids@Arariya

Hello!! My name is Taniya, and I have been at Kranti almost five years now, but this my first GlobalGiving report! So please be patient and kind and try to understand my writing. :)

As I said I am in Kranti almost five years now and I did not grow up in Kamathipura like most Kranti girls but my mother worked there many years. Before my mother died, I faced lots of sexual abuse and domestic violence from her partners, but then I run away and came to Kranti. At Kranti I felt like I was born again. Kranti gave me so many opportunity like exploring myself, attending workshop, traveling the world, and most important -- therapy! So because of therapy, I learned to dream.

Like before all other NGO I lived they told me I have no right to dream big….I should be happy working in a factory or dream of working at McDonald’s. But no, I dreamed of being a model. I dreamed of being dancer. I dreamed of being actress. But now my big dream that I’m working for is to be flight attendant! Because I know many girls from Kamathipura and other marginalized community have this dreams but nobody ever manage to reach. So I want to reach this dream and inspire so many girls. I want to share my smile and my happiness with as many people I can.

But...not just me, you want to know what Kranti is doing right?? :) So we have very very exciting three months at Kranti. Actually it is always exciting at Kranti, I think you’re knowing this!! In December for Christmas and New Year, we traveled to Kashmir for 20 days. WFirst we visit Srinagar city, stay in house boat in the lake, and visit the famous temples and mosques. Then we did trekking for five days in LOTS of snow -- we have never never never seen snow like this before! It was up to our waist and the the places we stayed was like small wood cabin, but outside it is so so so beautiful!

Then we went five days to stay in an NGO, Borderless World Foundation, which works for girls who are orphans from Kashmir confclit. There we did many activities and workshops and sharing. We enjoyed so so so much with these girls, they are age 14-18 and we dance on Bollywood music every night 3am! We share so much about losing our mother, living with no family, and even our stories from sexual abuse and other difficult times. We teach them about sex work and red-light area, they teach us about Kashmir war and life on India-Pakistan border. It was best bonding of our lives and we cried soooo much to leave them!

It is crazy adventure right?? We should rest for one month at least? But no -- in January, we traveled to two places for Lal Batti performances….we had biggest audience of our lives in Hyderabad, it was 3,000 people!!!! Then we performed in International Theater Festival of Kerala, then we came home. To rest?? No…..for another big, big crazy adventure! (If you follow us on Facebook you must know what the adventure is, but if you don’t…..you must wait for next GG report to find out!)

Thank you so much to everyone for giving us the precious gifts of life. Like chance for dreaming, chance for meeting BWF girls, and chance for sharing our stories to 3,000 people. 2018 is already amazing and I am so excited and hopeful for the year ahead. I hope for you too 2018 is wonderful and also for your family and friends. Please take care and keep smiling!

Love,
Taniya

Five days of trekking in THIS! :)
Five days of trekking in THIS! :)
We
We're famous in Hyderabad!
At the press conference....
At the press conference....
Our biggest show yet -- 3,000 audience members!
Our biggest show yet -- 3,000 audience members!

Links:

Dear Friends of Kranti (& Robin!),

Hope all of you, and your loved ones, are doing wonderfully. I think I am writing a project report after....three years?? I know you all enjoy hearing from the Krantikaris more than you enjoy hearing from me, but I’ve had some serious reflections the past month that I’d like to share with all of you. So I decided it’s time to polish my report writing skills! :)

First of all, in case you weren’t aware, Kranti recently returned from a theater tour in the UK, doing 40 performances in 60 days, across 15 cities, reaching 10K+ audience members in October 2017. Our last night in Edinburgh I went out for a quick walk and found myself in the middle of the city, sobbing...with gratitude. In that moment, if someone had asked me what more I want, I wouldn’t be able to think of single thing. I also couldn't figure out whom to thank - all the people who housed us, the Indians who fed us like royalty, or the 10K+ audience members who came with open minds but left with open hearts (and a lot of tears). For the Krantikaris, this trip was an unforgettable lesson in the love, support, compassion, and humanity of absolute strangers.

Many of the Krantikaris began some ambitious journeys immediately - 4 to university in the US, 3 to internships in Bangalore, and 1 to a UK boarding school! But....we also returned home to a line of SIX new girls wanting to come to Kranti (two have already moved in), so I’ve been taking some time to reflect on the upcoming years. As many of you know, one of our goals when we first started Kranti was to ensure that the organization is eventually run by members from the Kamathipura community. As the oldest Kranti girls are now 22/23, I can definitely see the day (4-5 years from now) when they will be managing and leading Kranti in the direction they know is best for their community.

This forced me to think about the legacy I'll be leaving these future leaders, and if I had to pick ONE thing that I want to improve or fix for them, it's our ambivalent financial situation. Many of you have been part of our journey for years, and you've seen us through a lot of hard times - admitting girls in mental hospitals, paying for mothers’ cremations, or even rescuing me from jail. Yes, you have always, ALWAYS been there for us. But we know that these crises can be just as hard on you as they are on us, and that's not the gift we want to give people, nor the way we want to express our gratitude.

However, Kranti’s general costs are about Rs. $5K per month (before any crises!), and I’ve struggled for five years now to raise this consistently. Until recently, I had a lightbulb moment when a mentor told me: "It's important for organizations to deal in the currencies you're rich in, not the ones you're poor in." He then asked me what currency is Kranti richest in, and immediately I knew - we are richest in our global network of amazing individuals who know, love, and support the Kranti girls.

So I decided to reach out and ask all of you for help with my goal for 2017 - I want to raise $5K of RECURRING donations on Global Giving! This means we need 500 donors to pledge $10 a month or 250 donors to commit $20/month. SURELY the Kranti community can pull this off!! 

 

I set up a separate GG page for this campaign here: http://goto.gg/30139 


Just a reminder that we’re looking for small, recurring donations! For those of you who have supported Kranti for several years, we would like to ask to also convince one or two friends to make a recurring $10 donation as well! :) Eventually, if we reach the goal of $5K in recurring donations, I will be deactivating this project. 

The Krantikaris have achieved so much the past few years, literally because of each and every one of you. You ARE the currency which makes Kranti rich in every way possible - rich in memories, rich in dreams, rich in success, and rich in love!

Will you help make Kranti sustainable as well??

With gratitude,
Robin

Krantikaris on BBC!
Krantikaris on BBC!
Performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Chilling in Cambridge after our show!
Chilling in Cambridge after our show!
We were lucky enough to go to London Pride!!!
We were lucky enough to go to London Pride!!!
Performing at a Gender in Education conference :)
Performing at a Gender in Education conference :)

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Kranti

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @KrantiMumbai
Kranti
Robin Chaurasiya
Project Leader:
Robin Chaurasiya
Mumbai, Maharashtra India

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