Help Chandrakala Get Back On Her Feet

Chandrakala is 27 year old today. You will mostly find her wearing cotton salwar kameezs – no bangles or dangly earrings. She tells me that she loves ‘gobi manchurian’ and ‘Pani Puri’ and movies starring the hunky Sandalwood film star, Darshan. She never complains. She gets along with everyone. And she’s always smiling. First look at Chandrakala, it all seems routine and ordinary. But take a closer look and you will see struggles of a young woman fighting to find her identity; in search of a sense of belongingness in the NGO she lives in today. We cannot even imagine how difficult it would be for someone who has been trafficked at age 20 and had to spent the next 5 years imprisoned in brothel.

Of The Many Names She Was Called, 'Chandrakala' Reminds Her Of Her Childhood

Of Course, Chandrakala isn’t her real name. But it’s a name she chose. She hasn't had much control over her life in past 5 years. She likes ‘Chandrakala’ because it was her pet name as a child. For the longest time, having responded to a name given by the brothel owner, even today there are still times when Chandrakala draws a blank when called her with either of the names. Chandrakala grew up in Mysore. Her parents died when she was a child. Both she and her sister were raised by her relatives and neighbours. Growing up, all she wanted was to get married and have a family of her own. But few months after she was rescued from the hell-hole, a govt funded rehabilitation tracked her relatives. But they wanted nothing to do with her.

She Woke Up In A Strange Room Surrounded By People Chattering Languages She Couldn’t Understand

Because, it was somehow Chandrakala’s fault that she was drugged in a Mysore bound train by a stranger, hauled off to a Mumbai brothel and tortured until she agreed to become a 'prostitute'. It’s no accident that she woke up dazed in a strange room, in a strange city, surrounded by people chattering in Hindi and Marathi, languages she couldn’t understand.  Her trafficker was banking on Chandrakala being disoriented and terrified – he knew it would make it tougher to escape. For the next five years, men bought and sold Chandrakala’s body on the streets of Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district.  At dusk, many like Chandrakala stand – caked in makeup – on narrow lanes littered with refuse, beckoning hollow-eyed men to follow them into suffocatingly-tiny rooms. Chandrakala soon became fluent in both Hindi and human suffering.

Rescued By Her Own Customer

She would never have been rescued if a customer from Karnataka hadn’t taken pity on her. Perhaps, the fact that they both had the same mother tongue, Kannada, did the trick. He alerted the police and they raided the brothel. The five years that Chandrakala was at government funded centres, she learned tailoring and mat making. But she had no job and little contact with the outside world. Still in her twenties, she began despairing of ever having a normal life. Death seemed like the only way out.    

How can you help?

Currently, she lives at TOFU’s home in Bangalore with other  trafficked women and for the first time in her adult life, she has a certain degree of autonomy.  Her conversation is suddenly peppering with terms she’s recently learned like “self-reliance” and “job security”. Her plans for the future are bound up in these abstract concepts. But ask her how she feels, she puts it simply, “Free”, she says, “Like I’ve been let out of prison.”.

Chandrakala’s life has come full circle. She was trafficked while returning home from Bangalore after a failed job hunt. It’s taken almost a decade but she finally might have a secure job. A few months ago, she was inducted into our Threads of Freedom programme. The training and reintegration costs around 1,20,000. Since it will takes few months until she is finally on payroll, so living expenses for coming few months in addition to the training might come upto 1,50,000 INR. Gradually, she also wishes to move out of the NGO and start a life of own. A small house. A kitchen to cook her favourite meal for herself. The feeling of independence when paying her own bills. Though she will be self-sufficient in 6months to afford this herself, the beginning will be struggle without your support. After she finishes training, she will be hired by one of TOFU’s partner garment factories. Your support will help Chandrakala live the life she deserves. Contribute now.

Ask for an update
3rd November 2017

Apologies for not sharing regular updates via Milaap. I hope all of you are signed on to our mailing list and request you to let me know if you haven't.

As we continue to grow at ToF, we have now built strong relationships with the local police in Karnataka. In fact quite often the police send victims directly to our home instead of keeping them in the police station since the women are far safer in our home.
Because of the relationship we have built with Janodaya, the room and board cost for our beneficiaries has come down significantly to rs 3100/month but the number of beneficiaries joining us has gone up thanks to the new partnerships. If you are open to supporting a beneficiary for 6 months or 1 year, we would greatly appreciate the much needed funds.

Thank you all so much for your continued support so far and we look forward to reintegrating many more beneficiaries.

15th May 2017
Dear All,

First of all thank you all so much for you support. I know we haven't been doing a great job of putting up updates on Milaap but I run a monthly newsletter mentioning all our updates for the month. So you can stay more connected to us, I'll be adding your email address to my monthly newsletter and most of you should have gotten an email from me today.
I wasn't able to add some of the email IDs, so if you haven't received the email, could you please subscribe to the newsletter at the following link:

If you had been getting my monthly emails over the past few months (because you donated on Kickstarter or signed up on our website), then please ignore this message.

Pritham Raja,

5th December 2016
Folks, as we come to the end of the year I wanted to share a couple of updates:

1. Chandrakala is HIV+ and had to go to the hospital regularly for checkups. During her visits, she got close to one of the hospital workers who is also HIV+ and eventually fell in love with him. They are now married and living together happily.

2. We are now starting our reintegration services in Mumbai and have tied up with 4 factories around the city to support our reintegration effort. After our successful Bangalore setup, Mumbai is the first city we will be replicating our model in - so wish us luck!

Thank you for all your support !

Learn more about the initiative

raised of Rs.270,000 goal

9 Supporters

Beneficiary: Tofu (Threads o... info_outline

Supporters (9)

Ram donated US $100
almost 2 years ago
Anonymous donated Rs.1,000
almost 2 years ago

i shall try to send Rs. 1000/ per month from december 2016

Sayan donated Rs.1,000
almost 2 years ago
Alankar donated Rs.2,500
almost 2 years ago
Ruchi donated US $20
almost 2 years ago
Anonymous donated US $50
almost 2 years ago

I wish you all the best, chandrakala! I hope you find your purpose and a lot of happiness in life.