matri-meal

Maitri Meals

Objective
  • To bring women out of brothel space.
  • To create an alternate life choice for women through establishment of a women’s collective in the food vertical.
Process

This initiative was launched on 13th August 2016. While initially eight women were shortlisted, ultimately three committed to taking this on full time. With these 3 didis, the food collective called Maitri Meals was launched. The major product being sold by Maitri Meals is packed lunch boxes prepared in a hygienic and regulated kitchen by the didis. The current target is the immediate community of G.B. Road. For this to be a reality, the didis were sent for an intensive Business Development training in Bhopal. Hands on culinary training was also given to them.

Outcomes and Challenges
  • The women have gone from the level of being shy and hesitant to step out to actually selling and being involved in procuring and purchasing of items. This has been one of the most remarkable changes in the recent developments at Kat-Katha.
  • However, raising funds, meeting targets etc. are big challenges for such a large scale project.
  • In spite of the hardships, these women are now taking ownership of the kitchen space. Maitri Meal has reached out to many partner organization of Kat-Katha through food and catering services. The women also became part of festivals at colleges, setting up their stalls and marketing their food. 3000 boxes were sold in 2016.
  • This was, in fact, a step forward for Kat-Katha as till August 2016, women have been mostly involved in work within brothels through various skills building processes. The process was necessary for our Didis as after working from their homes (brothels) they not only gained confidence but also found a new interest in life. Out of 8 women, two actually agreed to run a food business and dreamed of including others in their journey.
Future Actions and Learnings

Maitri Meals is in its learning phase where the team is exploring new paradigms to reach out to more people and raise sufficient funds to make the project sustainable.

Kat-Kalrav

Objective

The aim was to hold a prayer chain on G.B. Road in the plea of ending forced sex work on Independence Day, 15th August 2016. To spread the positivity and sensitizing people, we intended to come together with thousands of people across the country who graciously prayed at the same time.

Process

Kat-Kalrav is a very important and popular process of Kat-Katha. The event was planned for two days. It included a musical evening and a worldwide prayer circle for our Didis.
The prayer circle took place in brothels of Kat-Katha, an absolute first for GB Road. A large number of volunteers planned to build a prayer chain for 7 minutes in the community. Kat-Kalrav is symbolic of the fact that two different worlds, separated by prejudices, can come together. It brings excitement in the community to meet new people. This time Kat-Katha actually devised a different method of celebrating this whole event and focused rather on free flowing then organized activities. The major highlight was prayers in or outside 70 brothels. The other event was a musical evening at Kat-Katha. The highlight, indeed, was a mesmerizing dance performance by our Didis, which stole all hearts.

Outcomes and Challenges
  • Undertaking these prayer circles was a very difficult task. It faced stiff opposition from the pimps and owners of the brothels. In those brothels, where the Kat-Katha volunteers were not allowed to go in, many volunteers still went ahead with praying on the staircases, doorways and pavements.
  • There were success stories as well where women actually joined in the prayer and invited for more such prayer circles. The day radiated with positive energies despite the struggles we faced.
Future Actions and Learnings

The learning that was derived from this event was that with unshaking perseverance and motivation, we can motivate the didis to think beyond their bondage. Further the collective energy and power that Kat-Katha holds, is absolutely crucial to ensuring true integration of the women and children of G.B. Road. We wish to hold such mainstreaming initiatives in the near future more effectively.

kat kalrav
initiative

Samjho Toh Express

Objective

To facilitate journeys of engagement, leading to relationships based on friendship and empathy.

Process

The event was undertaken in collaboration with Youth Collective. The sex workers community has always been living at the fringe of society, devoid of friendship or any such emotional connect out of their exploitative environment. For this event, people from mainstream society were invited to participate in an exchange of love and respect via various events and long term interactions around the theme of Youth Collective’s Samjho Toh Express train metaphor. It was manifested through pairs and had 9 such pairs in the community. This event ended in a picnic on 3rd of September where the women and the other participants celebrated their journey. Volunteers made this whole journey immensely beautiful through their participation and engagements in different task. Two of our children created a beautiful video capturing the entire journey of Samjho Toh Express.

Outcomes and Challenges

There were initial challenges in holding a safe space for women to trust the new faces. However, the volunteers beautifully bridged this gap by gentle gestures of friendship with the Didis, such as exchanging letters and gift.

Future Actions and Learnings

We need to facilitate many more such spaces of engagement based on friendship and respect, to bridge the gap between the women and children of GB Road and society at large. A sharing by one of the participants gives us insight into the value of such activities; He shared that he never thought that he could build friendship with someone who is much older than him and actually is from sex workers community. He shared how he always hesitated and wondered whether he is asking the right questions. The journey had changed all of that for him and he is able to be more non-judgmental in approach.

Jamghat Lunch & Kranti Visit

Objective

To create spaces of engagement between children of similar life experiences, and through this to facilitate a journey of cross learning and exchange of ideas and embed a sense of solidarity and support.

Process

This year witnessed two events facilitating a cross exchange of ideas, emotions and building of relationships for the children and women of G.B. Road. Firstly, we received 50 guests from Jamghat on 14th August 2016. The children of Jamghat and Kat-katha joined together for a day of frolic and fun through dance and food prepared by our Didis. Kat-Katha was also graced with the presence of girls from Kranti in the year 2017. This was a historical moment as for the first time ever children from two red light areas Kamathipura and Delhi met each other. Kat-Katha would like to call it meeting of two sets of individuals who are never scared of dreaming. In this meeting, the children laughed and learnt together.

Outcomes and Challenges

Coordinating these events in terms of time feasibility, logistics etc. is a herculean task. However, the outcomes of creating spaces of friendship and safe spaces of oneness and solidarity are very important and welcome outcomes that outweigh the logistical issues.

Future Actions and Learnings

Events of this nature are very important, to help the women and children of GB Road find spaces of sisterhood and strength. However, it will help to put in place Standard Operating Procedures for similar events in the future.

initiative