"Thank you so much for offering your financial support since 2014. Because of your support, we were able to purchase 3 computers with chairs and tables to help our girl victims of rape receive proper computer education and training. In 2014, we were able to provide 28 girls with this needed education. We continued to offer this training in 2015-2017. 73 girls have now receiving this important training and education. In 2017, we used your funds to help construct a room for girls and their babies. Many of these girls got pregnant as a result of their rape. We have been able to provide a separate room for girls with babies. With your support along with government funding, our organization has been able to establish 2 homes. We currently have 100 girls at Digambarpur. The impact of sexual abuse has left many of these girls with low self-esteem, self-efficacy and a feeling of powerlessness and alienation. Many of these girls have lost their childhood. Due to family neglect and strong social stigmas around rape, many of these girls are not able to return to their family and community. As a result of this, many fall prey to traffickers. We intend to continue to make a difference for the lives of these girls by offering them a safe place to live and providing sustainable vocational training to support their self-sufficiency and livelihood. Thank you for your support in the lives of these girls."
South Kolkata Hamari Muskan in Santoshpur, Kolkata, India
In Kolkata’s red light areas, violence is the chief and sometimes the only mechanism via which a girl or a woman is kept within the confines of “her work” by her trafficker; pimp or landlady. Children born out of this violence become a part of this cycle of trauma, right from birth. It is not rare for a child we work with, to carry marks—visible or otherwise—of abuse and sheer neglect. Memories and experiences impact a child’s ability to maintain a positive sense of self. During the process of recovering from this violence, children—and also adults—encounter emotional and social distress which deters them from being wholly invested into their surroundings and in their lives. To counteract this numbing violence, neglect and harm, South Kolkata Hamari Muskan (SKHM) stresses upon therapeutic tools to better the mental well-being of a child, youth or a woman and boost resilience and confidence. In brief, SKHM offers educational; psychosocial; skill-building and nutritional support. Positive mental health combined with school-based education, martial arts training, wholesome food and a team of teachers and caregivers who are forever rooting for the students, help the children perform better: in studies, in life and within their community, providing them a choice to break the cycle of violence and prevent second-generation prostitution. It is a tough job! It requires tough people. So, SKHM chose the best of the best; people from the community. A percentage of SKHM’s staffs comprise former prostitutes, brothel landladies, liquor sellers, etc. Today, they are SKHM caregivers and outreach workers. Girls from the neighbourhood, who opted for education, and grew up to be smart, confident and tough examples, are our teachers. However, good intentions alone don’t lead to success. SKHM struggled—like most frontline non-profits—with finances. Working with an invisible minority—not a priority for either its people or the government—is never easy. During a particularly dark time, it was Shine a Light which indeed did shine bright for us. In 2016, after a brief visit, they began their journey with us by adopting our cause to prevent trafficking and second generation prostitution as worthy and relevant. They adopted SKHM’s night crèche which went on from 8pm to 11pm. It led to the creation of a safe space that kept children away from harm when the red light area was at its terrible and busiest best. It led the non-profit to expand its hours and provide double the nutrition that it could before.
"SKHM remains grateful to Shine-a-Light’s team led by the people who are committed to the cause, hopeful for change and tirelessly optimistic to work towards it. It has been an absolute pleasure to observe Shine-a-Light’s work and journey. They befriended us when we began a seemingly-impossible task of breaking an “almost tradition” of second-generation prostitution and start compulsory school admission in a semi-literate community. We remain grateful to the Shine a Light team of pacifist warriors for their support. They have been more than generous friends and this is a collaboration we cherish."
Jackson County SART (Sexual Assault Resource Team)
We got permission to use these quotes from survivors, who accessed services that Shine a Light helped make possible (prevention program, SASH support group, bodywork, Direct Service coordination through our Resource Specialist, counseling funding)“I am speechless for the financial assistance. The stress from basic survival needs is an underpinning of massive stress and sets off ptsd, making it harder to care for myself and make decisions…You are a shining star in a sea of cold and indifference…you think I could do this myself? I cannot imagine. …[the Resource Specialist] called today and I thank you so much. I felt loved and cared about.”