A transgender woman in Mumbai has pledged to build a shelter for children in vulnerable positions.
Activist Gauri Sawant was inspired to build a two storey shelter on her land, which spans 1,000 square feet after she saw the vulnerable position that children of sex workers were being put in.
Sawant, who is a single mother raising an orphan, recently appeared in a moving advert for Vicks that told a story about the mother and daughter combo.
The 37-year-old has a number of friends who are transgender and rely on sex work to support themselves and their families.
The activist, who has worked to improve life for the trans community for over 17 years in Mumbai was visiting sex workers in the red light district when she realised how difficult it was for women to balance their work and family obligations.
In one instance, a parent revealed that they were forced to service a client while their newborn was in the room so they could afford to eat that night.
“I was simply stunned and had to endure sleepless nights after that,” Sawant explained.
The shock motivated the activist to set to work on making sure the children of sex workers have a safe upbringing and are not thrust into vulnerable situations.
“It is my way of giving back to the society and to ensure that these girls have a safe upbringing and are not abandoned,” said Sawant. “We must face these harsh realities of life head on.”
Sawant has already raised nearly 50 percent of the funds needed to begin building the project through crowdsourcing site, milaap.
She has big plans for the shelter, which she plans to call “Nani ka Ghar”.
As well as acting as a safe space, it will also provide work to older trans people in the community as they will be offered positions as caretakers.
“We call the elders in our community nani and they will be the heart and soul of the shelter,” she explained.
Although the project is off to a flying start, Sawant is worried about sustaining the shelter once it is opened.
However, she hopes that she will garner more funds from local businesses.
“If we have the courage then it will sort itself out.
“I hope people realise the importance of standing up for social issues and donate to such causes,” she added.