The red light area is home of millions of prostitutes as well as their children. We saw many of children who lived in the brothel rooms. There is no law in India that protects these children. Even though it is known that children living with their mothers in the brothel rooms are faced with abuse, there is no law that says that children should not be in the brothel rooms with their mothers. We are so thankful that Vera has such a huge heart for these children and has graciously given nine young girls another hope at life. I just pray that there will arise many more strong women like her in the near future.
Our role is to help the woman, the mothers, the sisters out of prostitution. But it is not easy to see the women leave this profession and come to an alternative life-style. There are reasons why they do not want to leave: 1) the younger women make a lot of money in this area. Why would they want to leave and get a low-paying job? (They can only get low-paying jobs as most of them have never been to school. 2) the older women want to leave as they now make very little money. But it is so hard to find them a place to live and a job without the skills. 3) they have had a very difficult past (being forced into prostitution). So even if they do come out, they are faced with so many addictions and trauma.
As we met with the nuns and Vera about the future “business plans” and introducing the second-hand shop idea. They were really into it and took it very seriously. We talked about what our next steps should be and deiced that we must first get people to commit long-term to oversee the store, help in accounting, and to be a mentor to the women. December marks the date when Vera can receive funds from outside India. We talked about our role and goals in the process and explained that we are here to help with start up costs and to get the business running, enabling it to be self-sustainable.
We met Stephanie the jewelry designer at the home as well and she explained a little bit about her role and her organization (isanctuary). We decided that it would be best for both of us not to partner together. Instead she would be interested in training someone to oversee the jewelry making. We must talk further about when that can happen and exactly what that looks like.
(Thoughts from melody: it was really cool to see how successful Stephanie (from isanctuary) was in this business and inspiring to talk to her and the nuns who are so experienced in working with these ladies, And to meet more people that are passionate about women getting out of sex work and that have more knowledge about how it would work, They encouraged us to think more practically and through this I think I realized how important it is for us to have a really solid structure before we start this thing. I know that things like this work out even when we don’t have this clear structure because we’ve done that before too but I think it’s going to save us a lot of trouble!)
As we think about our future moves, Melody and I are seriously praying about returning to Mumbai to help Vera with the practical side next spring. This would include finding a place to start a shop and getting all the supplies in place(clothes rack, counter, cash register, computer/filing system). In the mean time, Vera must set up an international NGO to receive funds from the outside. These funds will just be for the start up. As she continues to look for a Hindi woman to oversee the store as a manager and another Hindi speaker to do the accounting, she can continue to work with the university students in her area who are helping her get clothes and merchandise to sale.
[[If you have any ideas or input in this please let me know! I’m still in need of monthly support before I even think about leaving on another trip to the East…]]
The future is looking very bright for the group and I hope that the book coming up can open up hearts to help these kinds of situations in other areas of the world. It just takes one small group of people willing to stick together and make a change.
If you have been following my story, I’d love to hear from you. I need all the encouragement I can get as I work to complete the over 100 page book full of art, photos, and design reaching out to our generation to fight for what they believe in .
For more information about the book, please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org