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Purnata Weekly updates - SEPTEMBER Vol. 01 - 2023

Dear Friends,

After the great fire of 1666 that levelled London, Christopher Wren, arguably the world’s most famous architect, was commissioned to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral.

One day in 1671, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold, one crouched, one half-standing and one standing tall, working very hard and fast. To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked the question, “What are you doing?” to which the bricklayer replied, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second bricklayer responded, “I’m a builder. I’m building a wall.” But the third bricklayer, the most productive of the three and the future leader of the group, when asked the question, “What are you doing?” replied with a gleam in his eye, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral for The Almighty.”

Now, the mason was doing his job, the one building the wall saw his work as an occupation but the one building the Cathedral saw what he was doing as his calling. There are some important lessons for us here.

  1. We need to have big-picture thinking – being able to see the end result and how our work contributes to that end.

  2. When we have a positive attitude and pride in what we are doing, it will show up in our work and our motivation.

  3. Connection to the Organization’s Mission – As staff, Board/Society members, volunteers, donors and partners connect with Purnata's mission, vision, values, and goals, we will be happier, more engaged, and more productive in our work.

I hope that all of us in some way or the other are being teachers to someone in our sphere of our influence, work with purpose to mould and shape people, inspire change, instil conviction and motivate transformation.

Remember that our impact goes beyond statistics and numbers. Each person we rescue, each survivor we empower, represents a life forever changed. A life that can now dream, aspire, and contribute to society.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to each one of you. Your commitment to the mission of bringing an end to human trafficking and empowering survivors is nothing short of inspiring.

Thank you, and let's do this together!

Let's see below what Purnata staff have been up to.

Yours for a traffick-free world

aaboo :-)


Short stories of what's happening to women and children (youth) we are working with:

Neha and Kashish are cousins from Nepal. They have been coming for parlour and tailoring classes. They have booked a flat at Kalyan by paying 1 lakh. The total price of the flat is 10 lakh. Their plan is for both of them to work in the area for a year and after that leave this trade. We have helped them open an account in SBI and are teaching them how to deposit money so they can save. After a year they will shift to Kalyan and will work in or start a parlour of their own. They regularly come to the centre for literacy classes and learning beautician courses.

Shirley, from Karnataka, is the daughter of Kairali who is commercially sexually exploited (CSE). Shirley was born in one of the dark and dingy brothels in Sonapur. When Shirley was 15 years old her mother got sick leading Shirley to get into the trade in the area. Later, she married a person from her village and went back there. However, not knowing any other work, she began running a brothel in the Hubli Red Light area (RLA) in Karnataka which her husband did not know about. She has two children. However, one day it had to come to light - her husband came to know about her work and so he left her. One child is at her village with her mother and another is with her. She soon had an affair with one of the brothel keeper's sons. They started to live together but he had a relationship with another woman too. Shirley had a fight with him and decided to come back to back to Sonapur.

Our staff encouraged her to move on and find dignified work. We showed her some videos of Zomato-Blinkit to develop her interest in doing grocery delivery at her pace and earning a decent earning. End of this month she will go back to Karnataka but we are praying she leaves and takes this important step in her life.

Rashmila is from Kolkata and has been commercially sexually exploited. Our staff have been helping her with her medical problem through the medical camp. She was suffering from Leukopenia (low white blood cell count). She has gone to the village to meet her father as he is not well. Let's hope she decides to move on for a better life.

Sharmili was trafficked at a very tender age into one of the red-light areas in Mumbai. She went back and married a person from her village. However, as is the story of so many of the women, he went and married another lady too. So she decided to leave him and came back to the area. When she turned 30 she stopped doing the business and started to cook in different households and continues to do so. She does not have her own children but she adopted her husband's second wife's son. He graduated in hotel management and now working in Dubai. He knows that Sharmili is staying in the area. She doesn't want to go back as her husband who is already married to two ladies. Though she is not in the trade anymore, she is not yet. wanting to move out.

Last week Sunita left the area and went to Kolkata with her daughter Jaya. Our staff have been encouraging her to leave and do something with her life. Sunita got married to a person whom her family suggested. Now she is with him and has decided not to come back again. Let's hope they remain happy and she will not have any reason to come back to her old life.

Binoy is one of the youths in the Ghatkopar red light area, he is the son of one of a brothel keeper. He had come to our career guidance session and had asked for help from Purnata to complete his basic computer training. With the help of our partner NGO Aarohan at Dahisar we were able to enrol Binoy on a basic computer course and after he had completed it the same NGO helped to get him a job at Sakinaka.

Purnima who is coming to our Center from the community is taking computer classes. She is a child who has grown up as part of our centre's activities Purnata is helping her to complete her computer MSCIT course. Computer classes are happening on a regular basis. Teens are practising typing. Nine teens at Aashray and six teens are regularly attending computer classes.


Snippets from Aashray:

  • The Literacy class is happening on a regular basis and four ladies are part of literacy classes.

  • 19 ladies were part of our weekly motivation session happened.

  • Shama & Meher came last week from Kolkata and Noorjahan from Delhi. They came last week from Kolkata, all independently and staying in different brothels. When our staff tried talking with them they haven't been very responsive.

  • Last week four of the seven ladies were regular for tailoring training every day.

  • Our staff have been encouraging the women of the area to take care of their health and remain fit. It is nice to see three women from the area who have started fitness classes at Aashray Center.

  • Some of the women have requested us to restart our basic beautician course. Two women have started the course happening thrice a week at the center.

  • We are understaffed at the Day Care Centre due to which have been unable to conduct any Parent-Teacher Meetings (PTM) over the last few months. We plan to have one soon.

  • We have planned a unique idea to celebrate Teachers Day. We will update you next week.


Snippets from Jeevan Asha:

  • Four of our youth have been practising on the turf at least twice a week and nearly 10-14 come for morning practice once a week.

  • Two young girls, Roma & Shivani from the community have been seeking our help for jobs. Our staff are helping them prepare their resumes and reaching out to our network to get them suitable jobs.


Update on our heroes:

Seema has completed almost a year with us and now will move to Nirmal Bhavan, run by Oasis India (to avoid a lot of travel for her) and will do her advanced tailoring training with Savera. We are grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with others and just shows how it takes a “village to raise a child” (in this case a woman). Physically she is improving overcoming various physical challenges, more focussed on making something of her life for her daughter Nisha. Ananya is right now being cared for by Purnata.

Rheema is now focusing on her literacy classes, we are looking forward to the opportunities with YWCA for her advanced cooking & baking training for which we have to pay fees of rupees 32,000/-. Our friend is trying to get a 50% reduction for the same so we may have to pay about rupees 16,000, which we will need to raise. She has shown very good improvement in her behaviour and maturity. There was a time we were counseling her but now she is counseling her younger sister. It’s amazing to see the change in her behaviour. She likes to dance in her free time.

Divya has been struggling with some emotional issues. After a month she has started opening up herself which is a good sign. She needs more time to adjust at home. She is interested in taking her training in tailoring and jewellery making and has started working on it. She feels more active when she is doing tailoring classes. Singing is her hobby and we encourage her to sing.


A highlight for our heroes:

Day Out: This week a few girls (including Ruth, an intern working with Purnata) from a COH visited the girls on Wednesday. They wanted to connect with our trainees and help them feel comfortable around them so they had some fun conversations. Through those conversations, they realized what these girls really loved and wanted to do but were limited to one room at the training centre. Our trainees express that they love cooking, baking, designing, painting and stitching. So on Thursday, the COH girls took them to “The Bake Studio” where they spent an entire evening making pasta from scratch and baked cupcakes as well.

They got to take home the cupcakes and the pasta that they made and the aprons so they could make it their own by customizing it through embroidery and painting. The COH girls expressed that it was their biggest achievement that day. During that evening with them, they were able to have some real conversations and connect with them on a deeper level.


A peek into what is developing in WB:

  • Our staff in Kolkata were able to engage with the ladies in the Red Light Area. One afternoon, they were invited to one of their rooms, and they were able to have a long conversation about their life. Many of the women are still to develop deeper, trusting relationships but we're slowly able to break the facade, though it will still take time. The brothels here are on the road with a lot of activity happening that can be distracting. When we have our own centre, it will be easier to get them to come and have conversations.

  • We are at the end of our negotiations to finalise a centre for our work in the Red Light Area (RLA) in Kolkata. We are hoping to get it repaired and soon start the activities. Our friend David is graciously raising the money needed for the same. He has a great heart for these women and wants to help individual women leave and find better life options where they can live with dignity.

  • In the source area, classes continue in the Day Care Centre, and the children have been regular. One of our Mumbai staff from our accounts team was able to visit the centre to see our work and also made visits to the neighbouring communities.


Skill-development Partnership:

  • Mr. Samir Baptist, CEO of Vihaan, came with two of his Mumbai team. They have a plan of four months of tailoring training and after that, there will be job placement. We are hoping for a good partnership with Vihaan NGO.

Fundraising partnerships:

  • We hope to raise our entire budget for the year through this effort and so we are excited and also apprehensive but filled with hope.

  • We managed to write a proposal to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund (UNVTF) towards our rescue work in Mumbai. Hoping that it bears fruit.

  • We are almost at the end of finalising our partnership with Donatekart for Donations in kind.

  • We are also almost finalising with our Bank regarding starting UPI payments and a QR code to receive donations directly.

  • Several of our Board and Society members generously contributed to raise seed money towards a fundraising effort we have entered in partnership with Marquee Equity.

  • All this leaves us with much excitement, hope and expectation that the best is yet to come.



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