It’s well-nigh impossible, sitting here on the coast of Maine, looking out at lobster pots and a foggy sea, to imagine that girls in India – some as young as five — are being kidnapped, trafficked and sold into sex slavery. I’m guessing that it is equally as difficult for the 22 young entrepreneurs who are working on ventures to tackle global problems at the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, Colorado to look out at the lovely Flatirons every day and concentrate on issues – but I’m probably wrong. The beauty of youth is its ability to look at these overwhelming problems and re-imagine a different future—without frustration, discouragement or despair.
A perfect example is Kranti, an Unreasonable Institute venture that seeks nothing less than a revolution (Kranti means “revolution” in Hindi) to empower women and sex workers in India. In 2009, by Indian government estimates, 3 million women were trafficked throughout the country, 40% of whom were minors. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times calls sex slavery “the biggest human rights issue of this century,” and it’s hard to argue that point. And unfortunately, despite all the money that has been invested to combat trafficking, more girls are victimized every year.
Kranti‘s founders, Trina Talukdar and Robin Chaurasiya, both worked in prevention programs in India and became totally discouraged by their results. Underage girls are generally picked up by the police in raids and taken to rescue organizations where they are often offered no education, no counseling, and no help for post-traumatic stress disorder. Many are sent back to the families which sold them in the first place, or married to inappropriate men. Fully one-third of them will be re-trafficked.
Kranti offers a different path – putting the girls’ choice about their futures back in their own hands. The plan is to live with the girls in a safe home in the city or on a self-sustaining farm in the country, bring in tutors to allow them to complete at least a high school education, and expose them to multiple different occupations so they can plan a better future. At Unreasonable Institute, Trina and Robin are exploring non-profit and for-profit models to generate income and avenues to sustainability, as their organization is a mere 10 months old. But for now, the first seven girls are living with Trina in Mumbai and the healing has begun. Their histories of abuse and sexual slavery are almost unbearable –unless you are young, committed, and convinced you can make a powerful difference, like Trina and Robin.
“I originally wanted to get my MBA and make a lot of money,” Trina says. “But when I saw how much these girls have to offer, and experienced the privilege of watching them heal, there was nothing more enriching to my life than that. It makes me happy every day to work with these girls. They are amazing, and they are going to go out and change the world.”
Today I’m celebrating (and supporting) Kranti and all the Unreasonable Fellows who believe they can change the world. Keep the faith!
What Gives News Flash!
Indigenous Pitch Dance Cooperative (post: 3/16) was invited to take their healing dance program to Haiti – and after reading this blog, a supporter offered to pay for their airfare! 9 dance instructors, 1 teacher, 1 musician, 1 psychology major, and 1 medical doctor left on July 2 and will be providing a week of play, creativity and self-expression to the traumatized children of Haiti. In addition, all children at the camp will receive clean water, a healthy lunch and snack each day, and access to basic medical care. Awesome!!