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Here’s a story of a woman whose husband was unemployed and an alcoholic. He sold her to a brothel, demanded money and abused her on a regular basis. When she protested, he took their son away and disappeared. To date, she has no idea where her son is. Although, she believes that he too, has been sold.


She now works as a sex worker to support her parents and herself. She lives in constant fear of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. She desperately wants to quit the flesh-trade, but has no idea how or what she could do instead.


After attending our specially designed program, she felt as though a weight had been lifted off of her. She eagerly looks forward to our vocational training programs to find a way out of her present situation, and to move on towards a life of self-sufficiency and dignity.


This is the story of one of the many lives we touched through Udaan.

How we started

Our team started visiting the red light area of Kalighat in July 2012, with the intention to implement the project. Getting a foothold in the community proved to be an uphill task. First, it was difficult to locate the exact area in Kalighat because the “respectable” houses merged seamlessly into the red light area. Many visits to the local heavyweights ultimately proved to be of no use – promises were made but nothing transpired. Secondly, because the community itself was exploited and stigmatized by almost everyone they come in touch with, they were suspicious of anyone who approached them.

Relief at the medical camps

However, assistance came from an unexpected source. A woman who had earlier worked with DMSC suggested that we approach the NGO. After several visits to the DMSC office and gaining entry into the community; winning the confidence of the target community was first on our agenda. We started with a medical camp (general medicine), and since then have been holding a medical camp every month, where check-ups, medicines and even spectacles are provided free of cost to the community.


The sex workers value these camps and an average of 60 patients are being treated at each medical camp. In ‘health camps’ they attended before us, they were often treated for minor ailments like stomach issues, body pain and cold–cough infections. However, it is HIV Aids, STDs, blood sugar issues caused by stress, traumatization and lifestyle that are the main life-threatening diseases. Awareness about HIV aids has been created in the community by DMSC, who have been working there for over 15 years, but there is no resolution in sight because the customers refuse to wear protection, and the women continue with their trade because that is their only means of livelihood. There is a high incidence of imbalance in blood sugar because the sex workers have to drink with their clients and are also exposed to the problems created by extreme poverty, social stigma, exposure to physical violence, and other heinous crimes.

Removing the trauma

Our next step was the introduction of Sudarshan Kriya and its associated practices in the community, through the Art of Living Wellness Programs. Sudarshan Kriya (SKY) has been clinically tested and proven to be effective in cases of chronic diseases like blood sugar, and also HIV Aids. The practices also help boost low self-esteem and morale.

Our primary aim is to raise the self-esteem of these women and help them fight diseases through the SKY and allied practices which include pranayama, meditation, and motivational interactive sessions. The children will be taken through Bal Chetna Shibirs, which ensures that they know the path to take for their benefit. Other than that, there is a dire need to provide the community with an alternative means of livelihood, to which they can turn, if they so choose.

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