In the year 2012, a team of veteran filmmakers collaborated to make a four hour television series inspired by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn's book - Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Woman World Wide.
The series was premiered in the United States in October 2012. The movement raised funds for the up-liftment of women worldwide. Through screening of entries, Krishna Mondal, the youngest member of the New Light Trust, won with the highest number of votes.
Krishna's award came with a financial component which New Light used to start a play school for toddlers and other out of school young children in Sonagachi, the biggest sex worker district in Kolkata. The play school aptly named "HTS - Operation Starfish" was launched in October 2013. The name Operation Starfish is borrowed from the Hawaiian folktale of a man throwing a single starfish picked up from the beach back into the ocean hoping to save its life. New Light aims to do the same and wishes to reach its goal even if it impacts or saves only one life.
"HTS - Operation Starfish" now cares for 23 children aged 3 to 6 years. The primary objective is welfare of toddlers and older out of school children whose needs are largely neglected. Most sex workers sleep late in to the morning and the children loiter on the unsafe streets of Sonagacchi uncared and unsupervised. The most vulnerable of these children are enrolled in "HTS - Operation Starfish" which focuses on providing basic schooling, promoting school going habit and on grooming children to join the mainstream schools at the right age. Equally importantly, the facility addresses the health and nutritional needs of the children; they receive nutritious snacks and lunch. Provisions are also in place for regular health checkups and vaccination.
The playschool is in its very initial phase and is managed by a volunteer from the community; operates between 10 am and 2 pm, six days a week. As community acceptance grows and when additional financial resources are available, we plan to upgrade the facility to a full-fledged playschool following the Montessori system of teaching. Teachers trained in the Montessori Method of teaching will be recruited and adequate supplies of appropriate equipments procured to make learning a pleasure for the little ones.