Kranti, an NGO that empowers girls from Mumbai’s red-light areas to become agents of social change — was asked to leave their home and office on 29 March 2014. The NGO has been given one month notice to leave their 3BHK flat in Kandivali East which serves as a home for 10 girls, as well as their office space. Their latest meeting with the building society confirmed that they must leave the flat by 1 May, despite the support of the flat owner to extend Kranti’s lease.
While leaving one home comes with many challenges, the organization’s biggest problem will be obtaining a new home. Robin Chaurasiya, co-founder of Kranti, claimed “I can’t imagine a single building in Mumbai where we can approach a flat owner and ask to run an NGO out of their home. Finding housing for singles, particularly women, is hard enough in this city — 10 teenage girls and 3 female staff? Where will we go?!”
The girls are disheartened by all of the problems that come with changing homes, particularly about leaving their schools. “I’ve only been at this school for one year, but I just made friends and I don’t want to change schools for my 10th next year,” says 14-year-old Rani Patil, who studies at a school located next to Kranti’s current home. Additionally, Rani and 13-year-old Sumaiya Sheikh are both disappointed because they are supposed to attend summer camps in the UK and US in June. “For two months I wrote emails asking people to pay my fees and plane ticket. Now that everything is paid, I might not get a passport because we have to change homes,” explained Sumaiya.
Kranti was in the news last year due to their difficulty in obtaining passports for their beneficiaries — including a passport for 19-year-old Shweta Katti, who moved to New York in August, 2013 to study at Bard College, making her the first girl from an Indian red-light area ever to study abroad. Kranti fears that this publicity might prevent them from finding housing, as is the case in Kandivali. “We used to be vague about the girls’ background. Things have become much more difficult since people started realizing they’re from Kamathipura,” says Chaurasiya. “We are hoping it’s a blessing in disguise and someone will give us a free or subsidized flat in the heart of the city.”
Kranti is expanding its search into Mumbai, where the Kranti girls spend a lot of time, such as Juhu, Bandra and Kamathipura, where many of their mothers still live and work. Their last case scenario? “We’re even looking out for a small piece of land so we can set up some temporary housing,” says Chaurasiya. “It’s that or the street!”Facing a deadline of 1 May, Kranti will be holding a housing fundraiser on 26 April.
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