We already wrote about the Dalit in one of our first projects. India’s Joginis are dedicated to a goddess when they are still young children, sold for sex when they reach puberty, and condemned to a lifetime of ritualised prostitution. Dedications are illegal, but it still goes on. Almost all Joginis are Dalits. Nine out of every ten are following in their mother’s footsteps.
The Pratigya Children’s Shelter in Andhra Pradesh is a specialised facility designed to prevent Dalit children being sold for sex when they reach puberty and be condemned to a lifetime of exploitation and poverty. The children’s shelter provides the daughters (or grandaughters) of Joginis with a safe and healthy place to live, a nutritious diet, access to quality education, and most importantly a loving and caring environment. This not only removes them from extreme vulnerability and poverty in their home village, but provides them with skills and knowledge to make a living so that they do not have to resort to prostitution. Girls are only admitted to the programme with the full and willing consent of their mothers. They have access to private tutors, healthcare, social workers, mental health evaluation, as well as a place in a Dalit Education Centre or vocational training programme.
We decided to support Pratigya Children’s Shelter by buying play equipment as well as a musical instrument for the children to learn music.