Dear Friends, family and supporters of Sari Bari-
Sari Bari has been working the red light areas of Kolkata for more than 4 years offering freedom and hope to women trapped the sex trade. Even after opening our second unit last year to create more spaces and opportunities for freedom, we are now busting at the seams and ready for more space with more than 50 women working at Kalighat and Songacchi Sari Bari units. Hope is being restored and is bringing new life in our midst. And we are very, very hope full!
Sadly, the majority of women who work for us were trafficked at a young age and found themselves trapped in the sex trade. They were vulnerable because of poverty and lack of choices for young women in the villages where they lived. Kyle Scott, WMF staff member, wrote a song called “35 once 13” that speaks profoundly of the losses that these women, our friends, have lost in the “in between”. Knowing these losses intimately because of our friendship and the life we share in community among these women we want to take a new step and prevent this cycle from repeating.
One of the important steps we took when we opened the second Sari Bari unit in Songacchi was to invite young women at risk, primarily daughters of sex workers, within the red light areas to work with us. We reserved 20 percent of our space in Sonagacchi for these young women and we are so encouraged to see this making a difference in their lives and have seen how their current employment has literally saved them from being forced to work in the sex trade. We see new girls working in Sonagacchi every day and this exploitation can be stopped before it has started. Helping to prevent new girls from being trafficked into the sex trade is the most effective way to combat sexual slavery. We hope to offer more high-risk girls an opportunity to life-giving education and work that will protect them from ever entering the sex trade
Sari Bari is ready to open one of its first sites dedicated to prevention in the next month, in a village that is a high trafficking area on the border of Bangladesh and India. We hope to employ young women ages 17-25 and living in poverty as a means of preventing them from being trafficked into the city of Kolkata as sex workers. As we have prepared for this new step our outreach, we have been visiting and connecting with the young women from the village. Gita (WMF Staff member) and Shaleha (New Production Manager–some of you probably have one of her blankets!) for the Prevention unit have been engaging the women and their mothers in conversations. And we have sadly found as we feared, that we are not the first visitors but one among many visitors to these impoverished areas. The girls have described many, many visitors who have sought to bring them to Kolkata for a job and ultimately to be sold into the sex trade in Songacchi or trafficked even further to Mumbai or the Middle East. Our encounters have confirmed the need for a response in this village to create a space for opportunity through employment so that these young women will not have to take the risk of trusting a stranger and ending up in sexual slavery.
We would like to offer you the opportunity to partner with us in the start up expenses for the building, the initial setup and the training costs for employing 20 young women. We are seeking to raise $10,000.00 by the end of June to cover these expenses and we hope that you will join with us. You can donate though WMF (www.wordmadeflesh.org) and click on the donate link or you can go to https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=26156 to make a donation online.
Sarah, Beth, Kyle, Gita, Upendra, Radha, Shela, Shaleha and all the Sari Bari Ladies