Sonar Tori - The Golden Boat Sails On
What began as an experiment on 2nd November 2009 has become a shining example of care for young adult women in difficult circumstances in the city of Kolkata. Sonar Tori was launched in November 2009 as an extension of New Light Soma Memorial Girls Home, a residential facility for girl children of female sex workers and other girls at risk of being trafficked or forced into prostitution. Under the terms of the license granted by the Provincial Government, Soma Home can shelter only girls up to the age of 18 years. Girls and young women above 18 years of age are at critical stage in their life, pursuing higher secondary school education or college and university education or professional studies. They cannot return to their mothers in the sex trade, many of them homeless anyway, and hope to remain safe and continue higher education. They will be exploited, run the risk of being forced in to prostitution or at best forced in to early marriage.
Sonar Tori ( The Golden Boat ) thus a logical extension of Soma Home, provides safe shelter to young women between the age of 18 and 25 who do not have either the support their family or the possibility of finding a safe shelter for themselves. Most of the young women at Sonar Tori come from backgrounds that are hugely challenging and many have been subjected to abuse and violence. Without a shelter it is impossible for them to continue with professional training or academic career.
The first and foremost purpose of Sonar Tori is to provide protective care, to young women from situations that would expose them to the risk of being trafficked or inducted into sex trade by some means or the other. Equally important is to help the young women to pursue higher education and acquire professional skills that would open up avenues of employment which in turn will help them gain financial independence and self sufficiency.
In India millions of people live without formal documents of identification. Huge rural to urban migration of a population that is largely illiterate makes it possible for opportunist and unscrupulous individuals to prey upon them. Today due to increased awareness regarding terrorist issues and national protection it is absolutely imperative to have a document of identity. The most important document of identity for adults is the Voters Card. However it would be impossible to be enrolled into the electoral roll without a big support from an established individual or agency. New Light takes it upon itself to assist these young women in obtaining the necessary identity documents for their future.
The most important values that New Light aims to bring to these young adults are discipline, responsibility and diligence. Most of them are beginning to demonstrate possibilities of moving on to the next stage of their lives thereby creating opportunities for the younger girls at Soma Home who are soon to attain adulthood.
We sincerely thank all our supporters and donors for Sonar Tori for creating a service and support that can be replicated in all cities around the world for women who have surmounted incredible challenges and odds where their lives have been transformed from neglect, abuse and violence to that of dignity, honor and empowerment.