Doings of a good man. Red Light district. Varanasi, India

When I met Ajeet Singh last year in New York I immediately felt deep sympathy to this clever and joyfull man. Together with my friends we spent a nice day in the city, throughout the day I was more and more amazed with the man I met. And now I can confidently say that Ajeet is one of the most noble people I ever met.
Let me tell you a little about Mr. Singh. Since 1988 Ajeet is a founder and a leader of the organization “Guria”, which is “fighting the sexual exploitation of women & girls specially forced prostitution & trafficking which has further become severe and complex due to sex tourism and spread of HIV/AIDS. While responding to their immediate suffering Guria is focusing on the root causes of prostitution poverty and inequality.”  In 2011 he became the man of the year in “The Week” – the Time Magazine equivalent in India, because of freeing Varanasi from the child prostitution and his fight with human trafficking. http://www.guriaindia.org/WebPage/index.html

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This year I went to India with a group of friends, one of the stops was in Varanasi. Ajeet invited us the see a school that he organized in the middle of the Red Light district. Every day he welcomes a group of children of sex workers so they don’t spend their time at home where mothers have to work. At the school they play and study. During our visit I saw few kids sleeping with there where other children play, all of the kids find rest only here, they feel safe and happy, in the contrary to the world outside of the school, where a child could be put to work or experience poverty and possibly sex abuse. It is even hard for me to write about this subject even harder to imagine what those kids may go through daily.

Red Light District
Red Light District

We brought toys, art supplies and sweets to share with children. For a few hours we were playing with them, painting, making airplanes out of colorful paper that we also brought with us. They really liked the airplanes, and kept on coming over with a sheet of paper asking to make another one.

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Children there are all different age from 3 to 18 years old. Older kids help out. Everybody was happy to see us, people who spoke English, wore different cloth and brought lots of love and joy.
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We were happy to play with kids too, even though it was a language barrier. A regular conversation would usually go like this:
– Bla bla bla…Ma’am.
– I am sorry I don’t know what mean. Would you like a pen?
– Bla bla
– Paper?
– Bla?
– I am sorry honey, still don’t understand.
– Bla bla bla bla (big smile). Ok!
– Ok then. I am glad we agreed!
End of story.

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Ajeet’s wife plays a big role at the school. I am sad she was away when we visited and I did not meet her. Every day she gathers children, they all sit around her on the floor. She tells them a story. Every day it is a different story. There are some drums playing. Children sit with their eyes closed. They start to dream. It is a quiet hour. While listening to the words, one after another they fall asleep. A man comes over and puts them slowly to the ground so they don’t hurt themselves falling. Eventually almost everyone is asleep. So relaxing and meditative.

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Ajeet not only takes care of these kids, but he also takes care of young women, who would otherwise become or were  sex workers. We visited another building next to the school where we met a group of women. They were sitting at the large round table and it appeared that they were all sewing skirts … out of newspaper. I think this was a practice of making patterns and then sewing them together. Ajeet explained that here they try to teach girls different skills that can potentially help financially. I saw a bunch of sewing machines around, this studio was equipped with other tools too.

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I sat at the table with ladies and for a few minutes we were exchanging our craft tricks. Then I was invited to have my henna tattoo done. There they study different henna styles, which can also become a source of income.

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I was sad we did not have much time in Varanasi, as would want to continue working with kids and women. But the good news is that Ajeet invited me to stay at his home and even gives me a large room that can become my art studio for the duration of my stay. I will be back!

Thank you Ajeet for being such a wonderful human being and inspiring us to become better.

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