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I am fundraising to send Sheetal From Red Light Area To US Drum School

Hi, I'm Sheetal! I'm 19, in 10th grade and I love to dance and play drums. A normal teenage life? Yes, but I grew up in Mumbai's red-light area. I am the daughter of a sex worker and I've never met my dad. I'm still in 10th because I've only been to school 3 years of my life. I faced a lot of violence, rape and discrimination....But I have big dreams! I want to go to a music school in the US for drumming diploma so I can start music classes in the red-light area. Will you help me get to the USA?
Like all girls growing up in the red-light area, I never had access to quality education, healthcare and other resources. I was taught that "a prostitute's daughter will only be a prostitute" and I was never allowed to have big dreams. But when I came to Kranti NGO, I studied, I had therapy, and most importantly, I had the chance to dream. I also found my passion in life - playing the drums. I want to attend this 1-year diploma program and bring music to my community, Kamathipura red-light area.
In the past 2 years, I have seen how powerful music can be as a tool for social change. I have seen people drumming to protest, drumming to fundraise and drumming to entertain. I want to do all of these things for my community. I also want the opportunity to live and study abroad - it has always been a childhood dream which I, a sex worker's daughter, never thought would come true. But I believe an experience like this will help me as a person and as a leader.
I know this is a lot of money for one person. But the money will not end with me - I will use the skills, confidence and experiences I gain to help other girls from my community. They also deserve the chance to have big dreams and amazing experiences. I want to start a music program in Kamathipura because I think music is amazing therapy. I also want sex workers and their kids to use music to fight for their rights, especially when they are protesting police brutality and other big problems.
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30th September 2015

Krantikaris have been very busy all around the world for the last five months. I've been in Washington DC learning to play drums, Shweta and Kavita have been studying on the Semester at Sea program, some have traveled across India for TedX talks, giving workshops and now we have all joined together for the Lal Batti Express tour across the U.S.!!

Five weeks ago, I remember traveling from DC to NYC to meet the Krantikaris at JFK International Airport to begin their theatre tour across the U.S. I was very excited to see them and to hug them as I had not seen all of Kranti for 8 months since I started studying drums at the Levine School of Music in DC. I couldn't sleep at all the night before Kranti arrived! When I went to the airport, I waited almost two hours and was thinking what will my reaction be? Will I cry? Will I be even more emotional? Then when I saw Shweta and Kavita, I went crazy and screamed and ran to hug them. I forgot all my worries and was filled with so much energy when I saw all the girls.

I had know idea what the play, Lal Batti Express (meaning Red Light Express, in Hindi) was about and so I was anticipating seeing the play for the first time. At the first practice, I was shocked and a bit confused at what they were doing and we all sat down and talked about what needed changing. The play is about Krantikaris' lives and their experiences and hopes for the future. Seeing the girls perform was absolutely amazing!

The girls had such a different reaction to New York City than I did when I arrived. I was shocked at all the buildings and how huge everything was but the other girls weren't - probably because we were altogether and they were exhausted from their travels! The best feeling for me was being back with all of Kranti after so long apart. The play is not all emotional and sadness, there are happy moments too. The audience contributed to the emotional part of the play. After each performance, we throw a ball around the audience and ask them to tell us what they are feeling or thinking and it really brought the audience and all of Kranti closer together.

We spent a few days in New York a city then traveled down to DC. We had a few great performances, spent Memorial Day at some monuments and also visited a few museums while we were there. The next stop was Chicago. Krantikaris felt so at home with the energy and density of the city. There was so much going on and so many people, it felt more like home than New York or DC thus far. In Chicago, we played in the world's third largest museum which was a great experience. Watching the girls in the play is very powerful; they have so much energy and emotions. When I watch them, I feel so proud of them!

One of the most amazing parts of each city were the Angels helping make our experience great and making us feel at home. People welcomed us into their homes and cooked Indian food for us, they drove us from place to place, sponsored meals and excursions as well. It had been truly uplifting to be given so much from people who only met us for the first time on this trip.

We were stranded in Chicago an extra day due to bad weather so we landed in Salt Lake City a day late which meant one less day at Yellowstone. We saw many bison, learned about the springs and geysers, saw Old Faithful erupt and went river rafting on the Yellowstone River. Some of the girls were really afraid of the water but we all went and supported each other. We screamed and laughed a lot and most of us jumped into the river at slower points - even the Krantikaris most afraid of the water jumped in. It was a really amazing experience!

San Francisco was our next stop and we were greeted by a new angel who fed us pizza dinner (we LOVE pizza!!) and we had a few performances - at Facebook and Google and some other places as well. Before this trip, we didn't know there was a physical place where Google and Facebook operated so it was really awesome to get tours there too! We never got a clear photo of the Golden Gate Bridge but we really enjoyed the windy boat ride out there and around Alcatraz!

Next stop, our last city, was LA. We were greeted at the airport by another angel who fed us, boarded us, and also let us have some much needed rest too! We loved going to Disneyland - especially Space Mountain, Haunted House and Pirates of the Caribbean. We enjoyed the down time to form new relationships and strengthen old ones.

The days have passed so quickly and none of us are thinking about the end of our time together. We are now in Sedona, AZ and will go the Grand Canyon to ride down on mules! It's been an unbelievable five weeks traveling and performing together and it will be so weird splitting apart from all Krantikaris again. Some are staying in the U.S. for different programs - Ashi and Sandhya are going to San Francisco for an English Volunteer program for the next few months. Shraddha, Rani and Sumaiya are all going to a leadership program in DC followed by summer camp in New Hampshire. Pinky is going to Outward Bound in Minneapolis. The rest of us are going back to Mumbai on Sunday.

Stay tuned to see what adventures await Kranti in the future!
P.S. I am soon going to be interning and teaching drums to children like different NGOs who don’t have the resources. Can’t wait.

I got in touch with Sheetal to check how she has been doing and what is she planning to do after her schooling from Levine School of Music in Washington D.C. She got back to me and here is what she had to say: 

" Hi! This is Sheetal! Thank you so much for supporting me and my dreams for last one year. I am just returned from US to India one month ago and now I am doing my dream job.....I am doing internship at drum school in Pune!

The organization is Taal, Inc, which aims to influence areas of health and well being through rhythm, music and arts. Here I am learning to be a drum circle facilitator for children. This is basically like music and art therapy and I am working mostly with slum children and the children of sex workers. I also get to learn a lot!

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I am also still playing the drums and am planning to join a band when I am settle into work life and schedule. But all the time I spent in America really really helped me for my English, my confidence and my music ability. I think now I am certain I want to use music for therapy especially for marginalized kids who never have chance to experience art or music.

As soon as I reach India, I gave one speech for "Josh Talks" and now it is online - you can see it here! 

Also,  I am giving another speech at "Expresso Talks." I am giving talks at events and sharing my story only because you all helped to make my dreams come true! Thank you so much for supporting me and other Krantikaris, you really shown us that Indian care about girls from red-light area.

I will send update as I do more programs, but here is one photo of me teaching some NGO kids!


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raised of Rs.30,000 goal

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Beneficiary: Kranti info_outline

Supporters (1)

Shishir donated Rs.2,000
almost 4 years ago

Motivated by completing d last campaign in No time, am In for another Plzz contribute to Send SHEETAL to US Drum School from Red Light Area