The Ugly Truth: Has A Disha (Hope)
(Disha is a Hindi word for Hope)
A Report By Ruchi Mukherjee
About ten years back I followed up on a rigorous story that involved sex workers in Sonagachi, a Red light district in Kolkata, India. I had the opportunity as a journalist to do a series on the sex workers living there and at that time I had some sleepless nights as I had for the first time come face to face with ‘The Ugly Truth’. Once again almost a decade later at the Westin Oaks Galleria in the comfort of Houston, Texas Dr. Sunitha Krishnan shook up some of those memories. On April 7, 2011 a luncheon was hosted by prominent Houston businessman Rick Pal for EK DISHA a USA based non-profit organization that funds high impact humanitarian projects in the Indian sub-continent guided by a simple yet inspiring philosophy: recognition and resolution of fundamental human needs.
Beaten, gang-raped, tortured, the fearless Dr. Sunitha Krishnan spoke to the 150 gathered at the luncheon about her anti trafficking crusade in India. Dr. Krishnan is recognized globally for her work with Prajwala, a NGO in India that has rescued over 4,350 girls from human trafficking. She operates transition and training centers that serve thousands of those who have been rescued. She has also implemented the “second-generation” prevention program in 18 schools that provides education to 6,000 children every day. EK DISHA has been supporting Prajwala since 2005.
Words really fell short after a powerful video presentation and insightful talk by Sunitha Krishnan. She informed that about two million people are trafficked each year within India or from neighboring countries. Co-founder of Prajwala Dr. Krishnan works tirelessly on rescuing these victims and teaches them new skills in a shelter run by them in the city of Hyderabad. They are in dire need of a new shelter so that they can rescue and rehabilitate more victims.
Sunitha narrated some nail biting horrifying stories of the victims and the circumstances in which they were forced into the sex trade business. “I cannot recollect even one girl who got into that profession out of choice. Some kidnapped, some sold by their own family members or lured with better job opportunities. Every child at my transition center is HIV positive. They weren’t born that way. They were infected as a result of rape or incest.” informed Dr. Krishnan.
A very inspiring afternoon that made everyone realize that it was time to wake up and make a difference by stopping abuse of any kind. The mission starts at home said Sunitha. Dr. Krishnan insisted that we have a dialogue with children and try to accept the imperfections of life and people who go through such cruelty. She insisted that we reach out and support them rather than shut our doors on them. The event was generously underwritten by Raj and Jugal Malani with other sponsors like Impex Films, Air Generate, One Point Inc, Encore Bank, Versatile Applications. Host partners Asia Society Texas Center, DAYA, and AADA.