Our second day in India was wonderful! We spent the entire day traveling around Kolkata visiting different New Light projects. We started our day at Starfish, a center for young children. The children come here after school, and stay all evening and sleep there too. It is located in Sonagachi, which is the largest red light district in Asia. Starfish is located about an hour away from New Light's main office. We spent a few hours there with the children, who slowly arrived, headed back from school. We also had the opportunity to meet some of the mothers from the surrounding area. The mothers all worked in the area and can't watch and care for their children at night when they are required to work. It was eye-opening to see beautiful, smart, and happy children who had all experienced great trauma in their lives so far.
Next, we visited Mukti, a project to create biodegradable feminine hygiene products for women in the area. The women who work at Mukti were all sex workers who wanted to change their lives and find new jobs. The project started almost 10 years ago and has taken a long time to develop. Now, the product is being perfected so it can be sold commercially.
Lastly, we went to Khelaghar, New Light's home for boys. A little over 20 young men ages 10-18 live here. The boys here were smart, polite, fun, and full of joy. We toured their whole house and got to ask them all questions about their lives and aspirations. All of the boys want to do great things with their lives, one even wants to be a mechanical engineer! After asking them questions, they showed us some of their many talents. We got to see wonderful singing, dancing, instrument playing, and magic. It was a wonderful experience to see boys flourishing into amazing young men.
Overall, we had another full day of events that was very eye-opening. Between today and yesterday we finished seeing all of New Lights programs, and soon will be started on the library!