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I am fundraising to help 12 Mumbai red-light area girls travel with their play, Lal Batti Express!

Who We Are:
We are Krantikaris – that’s Hindi for "Revolutionaries" – from Kranti, an NGO that empowers girls from Mumbai's red-light areas to become agents of social change. We are the daughters of sex workers. We are girls who were trafficked. We are girls who were born and raised in Kamathipura, Asia’s most infamous red-light area. We are young women, ages 13-19, with big dreams and big plans to change the world.

Change Through Theatre:
In 2013, we Krantikaris wrote, directed, and performed a play about our lives. By sharing our stories, we wanted to raise awareness of sex workers’ lives and their daily struggles. It turns out our play was so awesome we were asked to perform it in over 50 venues in front of over 100K+ people! Our play helped change thousands of people’s mindsets about us, our moms, and our community. Now, we want to share our stories with the world!

Our Next Play:
Laal Batti Express (Red-Light Express) is a three-segment depiction of our past, present and future – our mothers' work, our childhoods in brothels and NGOs, the discrimination we’ve faced, the struggles we’ve overcome, and our hopes and dreams for the future.  The title “Lal Batti Express,” means “red-light” as in Kamathipura but also as in a VIP “red-light” – the world might not see or treat us as VIPs, but the title (as well as the train component) symbolizes our personal journey from being the most marginalized of society to teaching mainstream society through theater.

Why We Travel:
We can’t change the world without seeing it first! We grew up in Kamathipura, and the red-light area was our entire world. After coming to Kranti, we traveled for the first time in our lives; our world grew to include all of Mumbai and slowly India. Now, we want to expand our world beyond India. While traveling will broaden our worldviews, our personal stories will broaden our audiences’ worldview. We know that others need inspiration to make change too - this is why we'll be bringing our community to theirs, through the magic of theatre!

The Grand Plan:
Our four-week itinerary, in addition to our performances, includes visits to NGOs working on girls’ and women’s rights, sex workers’ groups, universities, schools, prisons, and other organizations working with marginalized youth. Starting from 13 May, we plan to travel to New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

How to Help:
All of our transportation, food, lodging and sightseeing will be donated by individuals and companies in the USA. But we are fundraising for the things that people can’t donate: visa applications, theater props, venue fees, etc.

Will you support the Lal Batti Express to carry our voices all the way from Mumbai’s red-light area to stages in the US??

Ask for an update
7th December 2016
Dear Supporters, 

After the successful and well-received performance at Kala Ghoda Festival of Arts in Mumbai, this year, the participants of the Lalbatti Express play are elated. Post their performance in the U.S., their confidence has received a greater boost, according to the organisers. 

Lalbatti Express is now planning to take the stage to European shores. Members of Kranti, the NGO behind Lalbatti Express, are organising a trip to the United Kingdom for the participants next summer. They plan to perform the play at places like London, Edinburgh and Brighton. 

We will keep you posted on their progress. 

Thank you for your support.

Team Milaap.
31st March 2016
Dear Supporters,
I am Ibrahim, a Milaap Open Campaigns Fellow in Mumbai. The daughters from Kranti or Krantikaris, as they like to call themselves recently performed the play ‘Lal Batti Express’ at the renowned Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai. I was fortunate enough to go there and see them perform.

Even though I knew what the play’s theme was beforehand, I was still awestruck by their performance. But, more than that I was appalled to learn the truth about the lives of sex workers in Kamathipura.

The play began with each of the girls acting out the likes and dislikes of any normal eight-year-old girl. It then went out to show a girl’s teenage years how she experiences life and falls in love. The scene then darkened to show how unknowingly the girl was lured into trafficking. It took the viewers through the horrors of Kamithipura’s sex worker’s life and how they were abused horribly. The play mocked the elite who would solicit these women’s services regularly and still disrespect them.

The play then further shed light on the daughters of sex workers and their lives. It talked about their helplessness when they were abused by members of their own family, and their plight when they were refused admission into a good school. Worse of all - their dreams were crushed when the NGOs that come to “rescue” them would offer only tailoring and cooking as career opportunities. This is where Kranti comes into the picture. At this point, the play has a beautiful scene wherein the girls bound by ropes struggle at first but then finally manage to free themselves.

One could not help but applaud the maturity with which these young girls performed in the play. This should not come as a surprise, after all, they have seen the world, literally! Their U.S. trip was a resounding success where they touched many lives while spreading the stories about the lives of sex workers in Kamathipura. However, the Krantikaris have no plans of sitting still. They will be performing this play in various parts of India, wherever they can get a chance.

We wish Kranti and the girls all the luck in spreading the message and fulfilling their dream of creating a new generation of changemakers.

5th August 2015
after the performance at Facebook
housefull at the Chicago performance
Attending pride parade in San Francisco
at the Field Museum in Chicago

Image titleIt’s a dream come true, Kranti’s U.S. tour. When Robin (Kranti’s co-founder) told me about her idea of doing a tour around the states with all the Krantikaris, I was like, “Are you kidding me?” I seriously didn’t believe we could do something like that, but then I forgot it's Robin - she can pull off anything of course, even if that means no sleep for months.

All the Krantikaris had been working on a play, Lal Batti Express (which in English means Red Light Express) for months, and now it was time to bring it alive on U.S. platforms. I still remember sitting with Robin near the U.S. consulate and waiting to get all the visas. We had all our flights the next morning and were still missing few visas - we had no idea of how it was all going to work out, but I had faith, because this same thing happened to me two years back when I was first flying to U.S. I got my U.S. student visa 1 ½hours before my flight! In the end it worked out for the Krantikaris too, and the next day Lal Batti Express boarded the plane and took off for NYC.

I had been in NYC many times by myself, and this time everyone was there: my mom, my sisters, and the whole Kranti family. It was whole different experience seeing New York City with everyone and I loved it.

After NYC we travelled to DC, then Chicago. We LOVED deep dish pizza in Chicago (but NYC is still my favorite place ;) ). In these cities we performed our play and also went sightseeing. After Chicago we went to Yellowstone, where we got to go river rafting and saw hot springs - it is truly magical to see the things that exist on this planet. I am scared of water, but I dared to go river rafting because A) there is no option of not going at Kranti and B) Dar Ke Agge Jeet hai - facing fears only makes you stronger. After Yellowstone we went to San Francisco, and finally to LA. All these cities were great and I loved them.

The best part of going to all these cities is that we got to perform on very different platforms. In NYC we performed at GEMS, which works with trafficked girls in NYC. We got to share our stories with the people who had similar stories, and we felt very connected. In DC we performed in a juvenile jail where all the girls were our age. In Chicago we performed at the famous Field Museum on an open platform. People stopped by and saw our play, some laughed but kept going and had a wonderful experience. In San Francisco we performed at Google, can you imagine that? Google was something I had not even thought of, and it has its own Indian restaurant... I mean seriously, who has an Indian restaurant in their U.S. office?! The food was delicious. And you know where we performed next? Facebook! Those were the days I did not believe anything was real. In LA we performed at CBS studios; we also performed in a Hindu temple and it was beautiful.

My life on the Lal Batti Express was very exciting, it was an amazing experience for me and all the Krantikaris. Thank you sooooo much to everyone who donated to make this possible. We learned so much about the world and ourselves, and we got to teach others about our lives... all thanks to you!

Learn more about the initiative

raised of Rs.100,000 goal

39 Supporters

Beneficiary: Kranti info_outline

Supporters (39)

vasanth donated Rs.1,000
over 2 years ago

I am sorry..wish u good luck..

ravi donated US $100
almost 3 years ago
Anonymous donated Rs.2,500
about 3 years ago
MANMOHAN donated Rs.2,500
about 3 years ago

All the best!

Anonymous donated Rs.1,000
about 3 years ago
Deepak donated Rs.1,000
about 3 years ago

For the sisters.. who aim to change the society from a brother