My friends, I had almost given up. No matter how much I thought about it, I could not come up with my vision. There are so many issues and causes that I want to take up. I kept mulling for days— what exactly is my vision? And each time my mind swam in a haze of bubbles.
It was like trying to catch the end of a rainbow.
Until, this morning, I received a mail from Mr. Dinesh Mishra sharing news about *Sarlaa. Strikingly beautiful with a slender form and a smile which deepened her dimples, I had met her two and a half years back. I was then on a visit to a partner NGO run shelter home, as well as to attend a public hearing on witchcraft, violence against women and human trafficking in one of the tribal states of India, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
Sarlaa, like 30 other girls sheltered in that house, were all victims of human trafficking. Each one of these girls had gone through a harrowing experience and two of them were also pregnant. Sarlaa was 13 when she sold off by her family to a city based brothel in Delhi. 2 years later when she was rescued by an NGO, her family and her village refused to take her back saying that she was ‘ dirty’ and ‘polluted’. Unable to bear the trauma, she even tried to commit suicide.
Coming back to the email, I would like to share few lines from it.
“Sarlaa is very happy, for she cleared her 12th exam with good marks. The headmistress has given her a job in the school, where she will be teaching primary students and will get 1500 Rupees . After dusherra (an Hindu festival), she is planning to go to her village and meet her family. She has forgiven them. She wants to continue her work at the shelter homes for in her words, ‘I don’t want the other girls to have my fate. I want to guard and protect them from all evils..."
For me suddenly, the cobwebs that were forming in my mind started dissolving.
And, I found my vision, my talisman.I want to reach out to girls like Sarlaa and help them from becoming a victim of this heinous crime, where women and children are sold like cattles.
My vision is to educate and empower young girls and families so that they don’t have to make the horrible arithmetic of selling off a child so that the others can be fed or be duped into believing that a better future for their children in the cities..
And my plan is to devise a project that will focus on communities that are marginalized and vulnerable and provide a comprehensive anti human trafficking approach of prevention, protection and prosecution. I plan to mobilize and mentor youths and create a cadre of volunteers called ‘Saathis’— friend in Hindi. They will be empowered to spread awareness about this issue and form vigilante groups so that incidence of human trafficking can be stopped. They will advocate for the enrollment of children, particularly the girl child and also share information, facilitate the availing of Government welfare schemes for the poor families such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act; Right to Information Act ; Bharat Nirman; Diksha among others.
This way, I want to create 50,000 Saathis in the next 3 years particularly in the states of Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand.
In realizing this vision, opportunities such as ‘Voices of our Correspondent’ can go on to play a very encouraging role. Going through the trainings and having a mentor will help me sharpen my skills and expand my network. I am positive that it will double my confidence and add credibility to my resume, which in turn will help me in attracting partners for my project.
Most importantly being a Voice of our Correspondent, I will no longer be a lone crusader. I know for sure that there will be these hundreds of fighters, who will conspire and back me up when the world will pull me down.
Their strong voices will breathe into me and make me rise and rise.
- not her real name