New Light is a registered public charitable trust operating from the terrace of a temple deep inside the red-light district of Kalighat, Kolkata that offers comprehensive community development services. The project provides the children of sex workers a safe haven, particularly in the evening hours when streets are the most dangerous and the mothers are working.
Initiated by caring for 9 children in the year 2000, the programs of New Light today serves more than 250 children of various age groups. The services offered by New Light includes education, healthcare, nutritional support, recreational facility, HIV/AIDS care, income generation opportunities for the women and residential care for many of the young children from the community. Legal aid and advocacy against gender based violence are other thrust areas of New Light`s operation.
What They Do…
Safe Shelter: It is every child`s right to grow up in a world that is safe and secure in every aspect. Recent research reveals that fifty percent of all children in India are abused either physically or sexually or both. What comes as a shock is that fifty four percent of those are boys. At New Light the need for a safe shelter could not be more urgent. In the lanes of many red light districts where the mothers need to work in the evenings and sometimes all night long children are often left with indifferent adult supervision or are totally unattended. New Light provides shelter in several different locations around the city. Children can seek shelter, education, healthcare and programming.
Education: Today, all children and students enrolled in the various safe shelter programs of New Light attend formal schools. Extensive remedial support by dedicated teachers at pre-school, primary, secondary and higher secondary is provided to all. Special emphasis is given to Mathematics and Science. Additional English and other foreign language training is available for students above the age of ten. Moving beyond the scope of regular school level education, New Light provides individualized university, professional and vocational education to its beneficiaries. The students are encouraged to write their own stories through training in creative and expressive writing. Blogging is their latest passion.
Health Care: In order to bring basic healthcare services like emergency support, immunization, treatment for chronic illnesses and lifestyle diseases New Light has been providing comprehensive healthcare to the entire sex workers community for the past 14 years. Healthcare support is also extended to the immediate community and also to people outside the red light district. Operating out of two locations, the clinic is operational five days a week and is visited by a general practitioner, a pediatrician and a gynecologist. Six health workers / peer educators, a full time trained nurse and an assistant nurse is available to provide emergency medical care to the mothers and the children of the target population round the clock.
All medical treatment expenses for the children registered with the program are sponsored by New Light. To see more about the healthcare services click here.
Empowerment: The word Aanchal refers to the end portion of a sari symbolising protection and modesty. Nothing else perhaps could stand more powerfull for a program that is geared towards empowering women through creativity, cooperation and conservation. The training program involving women both from the sexworkers’ community and Dalit groups gather around in a circle of sisterhood creating stories of struggle and triumph in recycled cotton fabric.
Aanchal project creates alternative, sustainable avenues of employment and income for exited or ready to exit sex workers and other distressed women. These unemployed, socially and economically marginalized women are trained and equipped to produce exquisite Kantha embroidery. The project uses the traditional creative skills to develop marketable products, household utility items, out of old, discarded saris, dhotis or other soft clothes by embroidering those together.
The sewing circles meet approximately three times a week making quilts, blankets, pillows, bags and other items of utility. This program has been designed and guided by a group of RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) students of textile design and sustainable development.
Through Aanchal Project New Light reaches out to areas where women are uneducated, extremely poor and vulnerable to being trafficked. The income generation program is expected to reduce the risk of being trafficked for girls and young women and help rehabilitate and reintegrate rescued victims and survivors of trafficking.
Learn of our stories in our words.
Donate so that we may provide more services. $40 will buy school uniforms and shoes for one year, $60 will buy food for one month, $500 will provide a year of vocational training. Click here for more donation impacts.