Chandrakala was heading back home to Mysore after an unsuccessful job search in Bangalore when a friendly stranger offered her some food and juice.
She woke up in a brothel in Kamathipura – Mumbai’s red light district.
Chandrakala's story is hardly unique in India, thousands of women go through the same ordeal every year. Like most women, Chandrakala, refused to do what was expected of her but there was only so long she could live through the severe torture that the “gharwali” put her through. Luckily for her the story doesn’t end there - five years after she was trafficked, the police rescued her and other girls in the same home.
After she was rescued, a government-funded rehabilitation centre tracked down her relatives. They wanted nothing to do with her. Because somehow it’s Chandrakala's fault that at age 20 she was drugged in a Mysuru-bound bus by a stranger, hauled off to a Mumbai brothel and tortured until she agreed to become a prostitute.
Chandrakala was now stuck at this under-funded government home without a future where she couldn’t find a job even though she was trained in tailoring and mat making. For many trafficking survivors, getting rescued is just the beginning of their next ordeal in life. Families don’t want them back and they can’t get jobs even if they have some vocational training.
Our goal is to reintegrate survivors of trafficking after they have been rescued. We decided that vocational training alone isn’t sufficient but that we had to give them jobs. And not just any job, but a job at a mainstream employer that would equip her to leave the TOFU home and live by herself.
We work with partner manufacturers (that follow stringent labour compliance guidelines) to guarantee jobs for all our beneficiaries. We’ve built processes to ensure that no one in the factory finds out about her past and that her confidentiality is maintained. To incentivize our manufacturing partners, we give them orders from our own brands (mytofu.org) or other partner brands (Louis Phillippe is one of our clients).
Our beneficiaries are given training, food, accommodation, counseling and care that they require. Tofu provides a comprehensive program to reintegrate them.
Therapy Session in Progress
So far 40 girls have gone through our program including Bharti. “Initially I was nervous” she says but now she has become confident and is hopeful for a brighter future. “It is a rebirth which I had not dreamt in my life. Earlier death was the only answer. I feel very happy now.” she says.
Adarsh (Co-founder, ToF) having lunch with some of our candidates
We are raising funds to run our reintegration home in Bangalore and to expand our program to other cities. Mumbai is next on our list and we expect to start operations there by the end of May 2016. Here are the per month projected expenses and we are looking to raise funds for the next 2 months.
How Much to Donate?
Donate any amount that you are comfortable with. Every rupee goes a lot longer than you can imagine.