A little girl was asked what she wanted to become when she grows up. “Maadam” she replied. Maadam here refers to the lady who directs prostitutes in a brothel. This young one’s mother is a victim of commercial sex trafficking in Mumbai and Maadam for her is a symbol of power.
She was asked the same question after a few years. “I want to become Manju aunty” she replied. Manju Vyas is the CEO of Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) – an NGO that works with women victimized by the exploitation of sex trafficking and their children.
The story of this little girl is one among several that the Apne Aap team has to share. Apne Aap envisions not changing the world but making a small difference. However, the difference they have made for more than a thousand lives is by no means small.
We met the founder trustee Mr. Sudarshan Loyalka and CEO Mrs. Manju Vyas at the AAWC office in Mumbai. They described how a few people came together in 1998 to help the victimized women and formed AAWC. AAWC works with the underprivileged women in brothel based prostitution from the Kamathipura area in South Mumbai. AAWC aims to provide solace, care and support to the women and helps them fight for their basic human rights. They equip their daughters (whom they fondly call ‘sparrows’) with skills and support to pursue a dignified life, thus breaking the cycle of prostitution and poverty. They also work towards getting their children used to an educational environment at a formative age to reduce drop-out rates.
[caption id="attachment_32" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Apne Aap Women's Collective Team"][/caption]
They spoke about their difficult journey and how every hurdle gave them even more strength to face the challenges ahead. They expressed how satisfying it was for all of them to see these girls successfully step into the society and live a life of dignity.
For more information about Apne Aap Women’s Collective visit www.apneaap.info or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.