One of the most frustrating parts of this work is feeling a connection to these girls. It’s a bitter curse. Because when a setback happens, it is difficult not to take it like a soul crushing loss to the gut. I think most social workers, teachers, and really anyone that works with children (moms included) around the world can resonate with that feeling.
Yesterday, I found out that one of the girls just started prostitution. This girl is 17. For the protection of her privacy, I am going to call her, “Dolly” Dolly is a wonderful dancer. She loves learning computers. Dolly is very bright, beautiful and bold. I knew despite our efforts thus far, this was bound to happen as soon as her baby girl was born as this is typically the practice. But, knowing and then actually imagining this girl who you love so much, having horrible crimes against her happen first-hand are different. The last time I met Dolly and her baby, she begged one of the staff workers and me for a job. You could see that she wanted a chance to change her future. It’s hard because we are trying our best to support her dreams of giving her a future free of violence. Dolly deserves a life full of dignity, where she feels safe in her community, and where she doesn’t worry about her daughter’s future.
The program we have now is a small income generation program. Where vulnerable girls, like this Dolly, can come for 1-2 hours a day around their household duties and make macramé bags. For each bag that they make they get paid 100. This program and our small centre is a great starting place for these girls but they need more.
The problem is that we are a small community based organization. This is both our greatest strength and weakness. The girls trust us because they know us, because we have been working at the community level. But, our funds and capacity are limited. I am afraid by the time we have raised enough money to truly help them with economic empowerment; it will be too late. They will all be married. Their husbands and in-laws will have already forced them into prostitution and by then it will be too difficult to get them out. The time is really now. Not six months from now. Now.
Which is why I am asking for your help. I know that this beautiful girl, “Dolly” is not lost yet! I know that with a more sustainable way to earn an alternative income, she can leave prostitution for good.
The Shanti Project needs to raise $10,000 as seed money for it’s programs in New Delhi to get a strong enough income generation program going for this community.
With tax-deductible donations of $25, $50, $100 you can help us break free the vicious cycle of prostitution for Dolly and other girls just like her.
To make a PayPal donation to The Shanti Project and select firstname.lastname@example.org as the “to payment” it will link directly to The Shanti Project’s bank account. Please make a memo that this is for “Dolly”.
It may be hard for me to hear about setbacks, but setbacks also make us re-focus. I can tell you I have never been more focused as I am right now in helping support Dolly and the next generation.