After three airplane rides, a stopover in Hong Kong, and no sleep for days, we made it to Kolkata! We arrived at 12:00 am on April 5th, went to our hotel, slept a little, and then had a full day at New Light!
If you didn't already know, New Light is the non-profit organization where the library will be located. New Light is in Kalighat, a red-light district in Kolkata, India. Kolkata is notorious for the biggest and most violent prostitution and trafficking in the world. New Light focuses on helping the women and children in the area. Many of the women are trapped in brothel-based prostitution, and children become products of this. These children become part of an ongoing cycle of trafficking, which New Light is helping to change.
Our first day at New Light consisted of a welcoming ceremony, meeting the staff and seeing the headquarters, visiting the library site, and visiting many children of the area. We visited New Light's child care facility, Soma girls home, and Sonar Tori girls home.
Around the block from New Light's main office is a facility for pre-school aged children. This is also going to be the location of the library. The kids in this facility live there, eat there, and sleep there.
The next place we visited was the Soma girls home, for girls ages 6-18. Here we met many wonderful young women who attend school, do extracurricular activities, and get to lead normal lives. All of the girls here have very tough home situations or have been orphaned.
Lastly, we visited Sonar Tori, girls home for young women aged 18-25. The women here are finishing school and starting careers. They told us that they were working towards becoming hotel managers, beauticians, tailors, teachers, and much more. They were all very bright women who were building great futures for themselves.
All in all, our first day at New Light was wonderful and exciting! Stay tuned to hear about our upcoming adventures in Kolkata and the work towards completion of the library!