2018 has been a great year for Kat-Katha family. New projects, new goals, new relationships, and new dreams, we lived it all last year with immense joy and love. We successfully launched Maitri Meals 2.0, a safe space for our women and children, we celebrated dreams and danced our hearts out on Kat-Kalrav carnival. We cried, we laughed, we lost, we won but what mattered the most was that we came together as a family, in every situation, following our vision to make GB Road a street of love. Holding hands, we prayed, and braced ourselves for this new year with new hopes, new opportunities, and new challenges. We are grateful to each one of you for touching our soul and believing in our work. Your faith is our strength! Here’s how we closed this beautiful year – 2018:
Highlights of the Quarter (Oct-Dec 2018)
Kat-Yatra to Ayodhya: A Journey of Love & Wisdom
On 23rd December 2018, we started this surprise journey from Old Delhi with a total of four didis, seven kids and five team members with our hearts filled with Joy. Everything we did during this trip, whether it was travelling in the train, eating meals, talking with each other, at length late at night, annoying each other or being there for each other was all filled with laughter and togetherness.
Kat-Katha was invited by Ms. Meenal Sachdev (Founder, Shiv Foundation & Connect India) as one of the NGO partners for a fund raising satsang (Ram-Katha, Manas-Ganika) by Spiritual Guru Morari Bapu dedicated to sex workers (Didis) from all across India. It was, in itself a very enriching experience to listen to Ram Katha and bring out the historical connections and proof of acceptance of these women during Lord Rama’s era. Our kids asked questions to Morari Bapu like “Why are we born in a brothel”, Bapu proceeded with an entire day’s Katha based on this question asked by Kunal, trying to make him understand how we cannot control where we are born or where we get to die at, but what we can control is how we live our life.
We also celebrated 25th December, Christmas, during this trip and all of us shared one moment from our lives that we are grateful for and we all went to explore the city and visit the infamous Ram Mandir and the next day Hanuman Garhi and Janak palace where our children Pari and Palak performed a dance on Ghoomar.
Diwali Celebrations on GB Road: Sweets, Hugs, and Prayers
On 5th November 2018, we celebrated Diwali on the streets of GB Road by lighting the brothels with Diyas and shared sweets with the Didis and children. After cleaning and making rangoli in the Kat-Katha school, all the team members and volunteers (Chitrali, Ayushmita, Cheshta and Atul) present sat in circle for prayer. After the prayer Aseem, shared with us, all the names of the seven leads and the respective three rooms in which each of the group had to visit. Then we all left for room no. 51 where we were joined by the PVR Nest team and our other volunteers. We decorated the room with lights, diyas and rangoli and then sat for prayer and sharing. Gitanjali di took us through the glimpses of Kat-Katha’s previous Diwali celebrations and then Kunal enjoined everyone present for prayer. Later, we celebrated Deepika’s birthday with a cake. After that, we got divided into the groups with leads and dispersed for celebrating Diwali with didis in assigned brothels. After lighting brothels and sharing sweets with didis, groups started coming back to the school. In the school some of our old volunteers and the team of ‘URS Production and The Wellness Studio’ joined us.
Photography by Akshay Kapoor & Parth Parekh
When all of the groups returned to school; everyone sat for food and sweets and our girls Pari, Palak and Deepika conducted prayer before food. After this everyone sat to share how were they feeling, being a part of Kat-Katha’s Diwali. Then the photo session took place and a lot of memories were captured through lenses. After bidding goodbyes and wishes to everyone the team sat for the reflection circle.
Phase I – Field research, mobilization, and relationship building
Awareness on Menstrual Hygiene in Brothels
Kat-Katha’s field team (Asmita Katti & Anita) collaborated with Sirona India to spread awareness on Menstrual Hygiene in the brothels of GB Road. In the months of October to December, the team distributed menstrual cups to about 100 women living across 50 brothels. The team also discussed with women about the issues they face during menstrual cycle and how do they maintain hygiene during those days. After a rigorous survey on the road, the team distributed the cups and sensitized them with its benefits. The process of feedback is under progress and the team has been able to create a healthy and hygienic environment for women living on GB Road through this project.
Phase II – Bridge School on GB Road (Bridging the gap to Freedom)
Kunal Cleared his Xth Exams
Kunal who is enrolled in The Hope Project for his schooling, sat for his secondary board exam in march-april 2018. In his results he passed all the subjects except English in which he was compartmentalized. Besides his study in Hope Project, Kunal was provided support in Kat-Katha as well yet somehow, his result did not turned out to be in his favour. In his own words, he believed that he was distracted at the time of study and he didn’t even realize how easily time flew by and the board exams were on his head. Breaking down into tears because of that feeling of failure became a part of daily routine while he was not able to make eye contact with his mother. Soon Kunal decided that this has to be changed and he started preparing for his exam on his own. He sat again for his English exam in Sept- Oct 2018 examinations and scored first division.
Visit from Georgia University, Australia
On 15th November 2018, students pursuing Bachelors of Youth Work from Georgia University, Australia visited Kat-Katha.
We received a team of twelve students traveling from Australia at Ajmeri Gate. Asmita, Anita, Sangita, Neetu and Vanita were present at Kat-Katha to welcome them. The meeting started with silence, prayer and gratitude circle. Followed by the circle of introduction coordinated by Aseem. After that story of Kat-Katha was shared along with Gitanjali’s story and the RISE approach that Kat-Katha followed and the four phased approach that Kat-Katha is following now.
Asmita, Sangeeta and Neetu prepared and served tea to all the guests. After that Aseem shared the achievements of the children (The Mystical Movers &The Magical Lens) and other different projects (Rishton ka Safarnama & Maitri Meals) taken up by Kat-Katha in its journey. In between the discussion Anita shared her experience about the project ‘Rishton ka Safarnama’; Sangeeta and Neetu also shared their journey and experience with Kat-Katha and Maitri Meals Project.
Children also shared their experience with the dance group. After that, questions were taken from the visitors by team members while Loganathan supported the discussion. After that Sangeeta, Neetu and Vanita thanked all the visitors for visiting and took their leave. Anita, Asmita and Aseem shared their stories and experience with Kat-Katha. Loganathan also shared about the caste system and devdasi community in a bit detail as it came into discussion. Kunal and Suhail did a dance performance upon the guests’ request, Suhail even taught them some steps on an English song. The visit came to a closure with a group photo. The team expressed their gratitude for the gift of books and toys from the visitors. We hugged and wished each other and Aseem went to see them off to their pickup point.
Clown POPO’s Visit to Brothels
If you’re laughing, you’re healing.
Clown POPO is from Project Laughing Curry (India) conceived by Clown without Borders (Sweden) and Rednose Entertainment (Mumbai) in 2012.
In their journey of spreading love and happiness by making people smile and laugh through their acts, Clown POPO landed on GB Road on 19th December 2018 to share some moments of joy with our didis and kids. Bhaskar, Sagnik and Tapasya from Clown POPO’s team visited brothels and Kat-Katha where they made our didis and kids laugh.
Photography by Arjun Rathor (The Magical Lens)
Clown POPO visited Brothel No. 54 where they got ready with their costumes and instruments for the interaction. They Interacted with didis and kids in there and then brought kids along with them to Kat-Katha where they met other kids and performed the act they had come prepared with. After the act Kids gave the team a souvenir card they had prepared and bid goodbye with a promise to meet again very soon.
Phase III – Empower Projects to enable women and children
Maitri Meals Stall at Birla Soft Office
On the 2nd day of November 2018, Didis from Maitri Meals Project, initiated by Kat-Katha in collaboration with PVR Nest and Art of Play, had their first experience of organizing a food stall in Birla Soft office during Diwali celebrations. Our didis also made beautiful earrings to sell at their stall. It was a very beautiful learning experience which they enjoyed a lot and felt really good when they received positive feedbacks from their customers.
Diwali Celebrations at Maitri Meals
We celebrated Diwali at our new home with the amazing team of Art of Play on 1st November 2018. Uur Didis decorated the house with flowers and lights, prepared food for everyone with love, and together we conducted a traditional Puja ceremony followed by Maitri lunch. It was a joyous occasion which brought moments of happiness in the kitchen. PVR Nest added to our joy by sending gift hampers for Maitri Meals staff on Diwali.
Staff Training Programs
Samanvay Retreat, Ahmedabad
Samanvay Retreat, held from 14th-16th December 2018, was a 3 day immersion designed to bring together people working in different regions for different or similar cause and hold discussion around the quality of change that we want to bring in our respective communities along with looking within ourselves and understanding why are we doing what we are doing.
Our staff member, Sunidhi, along with our kids Suhail and Kunal who recently joined our team participated in the retreat and got to learn so much from people like Bhawana Behen, founder of the Utthan center for the mentally challenged, our beloved Jayesh Bhai, Anar Behen and many more interesting people. It’s been an incredible privilege to witness the outpour of love, community and connection that we all felt in just 3 days. It’s humbling to witness the unfurling of the intention of this gathering that has been in the soil for such a long time.
Email Writing Workshop
On 6th December 2018, the workshop on “Effective Email Writing” was specifically designed and conducted for the staff of Kat-Katha. The purpose of the workshop was to educate the staff about components of an email to understand the importance of each component like subject, body language, presentation, and so on. The workshop was interactive as live examples from Kat-Katha’s previous mails was displayed and the staff was asked to list down the errors. It helped the participants to understand the concept thoroughly like how to mail and address different recipients like donors, peers, and others. The objective was to differentiate between email writing and effective email writing. The workshop helped the staff members to become aware about the minute details and write better emails within the team and outside.
Chennai Visit – Rotary Club of Madras & Auroville
On 16th December 2018, Gitanjali Babbar (Founder, Kat-Katha) was invited for a talk by Rotary Club of Madras. Gitanjali spoke about Kat-Katha’s values such as Love, Faith, and Compassion with the senior members of Rotary Club. Suhail (Student at Kat-Katha) also shared his life story with the audience leaving an impact on their views about sex worker community. Post the session, Kat-Katha team (Gitanjali, Anurag, Suhail & Anita) visited Auroville and learned about the ecosystem and different projects in Auroville. The team visited Upassana Fashion and many other eco-friendly projects running successfully from many years at Auroville. Chennai visit was an enchanting trip for the team, full of love, values, and deep learnings. The visit was hosted and supported by Mr. Venkat and Mrs. Anju Saraff. We are truly grateful for this lovely experience.
Testimonial: From Stereotypes to Finding a Family on GB Road
This one year long journey as a volunteer has been a joyful learning experience which resulted in me becoming a part of Kat-Katha team in November 2018. When I look back in time and compare, I find my perception of G.B. Road on completely opposite ends. Today when I reflect upon my journey I can clearly see and feel that I have found a family in the form of teammates, Didis and most importantly, kids. Each day at Kat-Katha is a new one with its new challenges and new learnings and each day I feel grateful to the day I decided to come to G.B. Road for the first time.
In the last three months’ journey of handling responsibilities, dealing with kids, conversa ting with mentors, going out on learning trips and Kat-Yatra has made me even more responsible person towards my role as well as an individual. Each night I go to sleep with a promise to myself to make Kat-Katha Bridge school to be THE BEST among all the schools of Red light districts in India. With my love and belief in kids I find this to be an achievable goal.
Aseem Kumar Sharma
In the year 2013, the seed of an unusual idea took shape in the unlikeliest of places in India. Registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, Kat-Katha was born on the streets of GB Road, the largest red-light area in the National capital region. Looking back today, in a short span of a little over five years, Kat-Katha has transformed the lives of several women sex workers on GB road.
Since its inception, Kat-Katha has been guided by the vision of ending ‘Forced Sex work’. Founded and shaped by experienced, passionate and professional social agents, Kat-Katha has today established itself as an organization synonymous with trust, respect and deliverability among its diverse stakeholders. Over the years, the efforts by Kat-Katha have been recognized at several prestigious forums including L’oreal Paris Femina Women Awards, Times Now Amazing Indian Award, Zee TV Fempowerment, Mahindra Rise Award, and so on.
Kat-Katha began the transformation process with a four pronged approach called RISE (Rights, Integration, Skills, and Education). With time, as the organization matured, Kat-Katha discovered a vision cycle comprising four phases; Field Research and Relationship Building to strengthen the roots on GB Road, establishing the Bridge school at GB Road to bridge the gap to freedom, Empower Projects to enable the women and children to lead a powerful life of their own choice, and finally, Freedom from forced sex work. Kat-Katha is on a journey to accomplish the Freedom for women and children by achieving the goals in first three phases.
Website – http://www.kat-katha.org