Kolkata sanved Saving Lives Through Dance

Another day, another long bus ride to our Partner Kolkata Sanved. First let me say that every time our bus embarks on a road trip in these parts, we are a complete spectacle. The word TOURIST, in caps about 1 foot high, is plastered across the windshield of our bus. We are driving on the same road as men pushing carts, bicycles, scooters, cows, goats, dogs and pedestrians. We are indeed a rare sight in the rural communities we are driving through. Mix that with the fact that about 1/2 of the group are blondes, and it is a total WOW factor. We are tantamount to a UFO, complete with aliens, driving down anywhere, Main Street USA !!!!
We arrive and meet the beautiful and inspirational women of Kolkata Sanved. We were all guided through a Dance Movement Therapy session, (DMT ) that a girl who had been recently rescued would go through. We experienced first hand the transformational power of DMT. DMT can heal and empower the victims of sex violence to be bold, confident, advocates for themselves.
Kolkata Sanved has implemented a “Training of Trainers” or TOT program, which empowers victims to acquire the skills to have a career as a DMT teacher, enabling them to integrate back into mainstream society.
The TOT girls escorted us to the red light district to show us how they work with the at risk children at the Apne Aap drop in center. This is a different red light district than the one at Bowbazar, but no less dark and scary. The poverty here is ineffable for me to express, but this is the only reality the children here know. We walk up to the open roof area of the building. Both the TOT’s and the children were so eager to to show us their routines, and once again, the polite and proud ritual of the children introducing themselves is so heartwarming and endearing.
Not 5 minutes into the routine came loud aggressive Hindi screaming from the neighbors, telling the group to be quite. It was frightening. The children were un phased by the abrupt ending to their show, which to me , was the saddest thing, as it was clear that disappointment and disempowerment is the rule and not the exception in their experience.

Kolkata Sanved believes that all individuals, from marginalized and mainstream populations, should live with dignity and self-respect. This basic sense of empowerment and integrity is achieved through their DMT program.

Kolkata Sanved has had great success using DMT as a modality to heal, empower and rehabilitate survivors of trafficking and violence. Transforming Steps in London, 2012. Kolkata Sanved launched an international campaign in both Kolkata and London called “Stand with Survivors of Sex Trafficking, Stand Against Exploitation”. They collaborated with Sadler’s Wells, a world renowned theater, and Living Lens, an organization utilizing video as therapy for the survivors of human trafficking. Together they raised awareness around sex trafficking through the creation of a film starring the Sanved dancers as they performed at the famous venue of Sadler’s Wells in London. The film was screened across London prior to the Olympics in 2012.


Kolkata Sanved also received the prestigious “DVF Award” The Diane von Furstenberg Award for Transforming the Lives of Women in March of 2011. The Award ceremony took place at United Nations, at the Women in the World Summit. This award gives recognition to those who are using their resources, commitment and visibility to transform the lives of other women. These are women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.

Kolkata Sanved has also won the Beyond Sport Award 2009 in the “Best Project For Health” category. Kolkata Sanved’s flagship programme “Saving Lives Through Dance” has emerged among 265 projects from 40 countries.
If you would like more information on Kolata Sanved please see the Partners and Projects section of my blog.
Abolish 21st century slavery.
With love and gratitude









Day 1 in New Delhi …Apne Ap, “An Ounce of Prevention”
Our first day in New Delhi, brought us to one of our OTM Partners, Apne Ap Worldwide.
Apne Ap ‘s main focus is the prevention of “at risk” children being trafficked, and are currently working with women who have already fallen prey to sex traffickers. Apne Ap’s task is seemingly an insurmountable one, as the definition here in India of “at risk” is being poor, uneducated, marginalized, and female. This description fits virtually every female child, of literally hundreds of thousands of women currently being exploited in the illegal sex trade.
The directors and employees of Apne Ap, are working tirelessly with the victims to educate and empower them, and more importantly, to find sustainable solutions to this end.

When the victims are asked what is of the greatest importance and immediate concern to them, the answer invariably is that their children not fall prey to their fate.
Crucial to meeting this need, one of the projects Apne Ap has implemented is to provide a “safe house”, or community center, where the children are able to gather in a safe and wholesome environment to socialize, learn computer, reading skills, sewing and dance.

As we approached the steps of the center, the children’s excitement was palpable. I felt as if the center itself was going to explode from the anticipation of our arrival. My heart too, was swelling in my chest and felt as if it would explode in unison. We received warm welcome greetings, handshakes, and hugs. There was an abundance of sweet shining smiles, and innocent sparkling eyes that were reflective of the innocence still tenuously hanging by a thread in their little hearts. How precious and ephemeral that innocence is. As I touched each and every child there, be it with a handshake, smile or eye contact, my silent prayer for each and every one of them, as well as the millions I will never see, ” may you stay forever young”

I am very grateful and honored to have been able to share their space with them. Those faces have left an indelible imprint in my heart.

Thank you Apne Ap for your service, and continuing to pour in your loving care, ounce by ounce, through prevention. May you succeed in draining this cesspool of human injustice and transform it into a vessel of love for fellow humanity.
Below are some testimonials for Apne Ap. if you would like to learn more about Apne Aplease visit my “Partners and Projects” blog on this site.
In love and gratitude.
Abolish 21st Century Slavery

Ashley Judd, Actress/Activist:
“Ruchira Gupta is well versed in the reciprocal cycles of poverty and exploitation, and how gender inequality sets the stage. Her NGO is based on two Gandhian principles: Antodaya (power to the last wo/man) and Ahimsa (non-violence), and which says so eloquently that the destruction which happens in the soul of an abuser is absolutely equal to the victimization of the abused. She operates the NGO right in the ‘hood,’ inviting anyone to join. They teach their members self reliance, self efficacy, self respect, self love. It’s capacity building of the most essential sort.”

Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, Authors,”
Half the Sky”:
“Ruchira is a hearty, loquacious woman with brown skin, black hair and an infectious manner… Ruchira Gupta and her staff at Apne Aap are part of a growing abolitionist movement that is forming around the world and having a real impact on sex slavery.”

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate:
“It is Ruchira’s tiny NGO that is making a difference in the world. I visited India on the invitation of her NGO, Apne Aap, which works with women and their children who live in red light districts. No government can limit or repress such small organisations.”