Fifteen years back, we were totally engrossed in a project of AIDS control through STI control among street-based, floating sex workers in suburban Mumbai. This particular section of society was found to be the most tricky. They were streetsmart women and often used to change places depending on circumstances and especially police crackdown in certain places.
We designed a new strategy to win their confidence. Our staff started visiting their houses and supporting their efforts of sending children especially daughters to school. Our staff arranged help for provision of Books, Notebooks, compass box, etc. Wherever needed Sanmitra staff secured admission in hostels for further education. This strategy worked effectively and we found that these women were highly motivated and keen on their children's education. They started trusting our staff and were respectful. Often they called them brother or sister also.
We used to arrange get-togethers every quarter so that the bond gets stronger. We wanted to secure responsible behavior from them. We wanted them to use a condom and come to us for a periodic check-up, take treatment and get rid of STIs as early as possible.
In one such get together for a religious festival, women started singing and dancing and I noticed a small girl of around ten years dancing and giggling. Immediately after the dance, I called that girl and asked her name. She was Hema. She was very beautiful, smart and intelligent. The first thought that came to my mind was that the mother would certainly earn good amount of money once she becomes young.
I asked whether she had joined a school and she nodded. Her mother also joined our conversation. She told me that she was determined to educate her daughter and if possible also to send her to college. I appreciated her mother's resolve and patted on Hema's back.
Suddenly Hema got up and told me that her father had already shown her horoscope to an astrologer and the astrologer predicted hat Hema would be a lawyer. We all burst into laughter and I once again patted her n told her certainly she would be a lawyer if she resolves.
After a gap of fifteen years, Hema and her mother met me. Hema had cleared Law exams and wanted to practice law. I advised her to take the experience of working in a Law firm first. I talked to my lawyer friend and Hema was placed in a Law firm as a trainee.
When I look back I feel completely satisfied that Sanmitra trust could go beyond AIDS control work and beyond duty and this beautiful girl did not enter sex trade instead she chose a different and difficult path.
I also thanked her mother's strong determination, her father who went to an astrologer and the Astrologer who predicted her to be a lawyer. He created a deep impression on her mind. Unknowingly both men created a revolution in the colony of sex workers.