Don’t Colour Me Red!

Prerana is a path-breaking initiative to show the red light to Mumbai’s red-light areas, says Queency Raichada


‘Prerana’ means inspiration in Hindi and Sanskrit. It is also the name of a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation which works against human trafficking.

Children born in the red-light areas get trapped into a vicious circle; they are eventually forced into prostitution, generation after generation. This cycle needs to be broken, to give innocent young lives the opportunity to be masters of their own destiny. Prerana provides exactly this opportunity to children of prostitutes to break away from a demeaning profession and live life on their own terms.

Founded in 1986 by  Pravin and Priti Patkar, Prerana celebrates 28 years of fighting injustice and protecting rights of women/children who are victims, or potential victims, of prostitution. “Human trafficking is one of the biggest criminal activities and India is one of the main destinations for this,” says Priti Patkar who chose to join the fight to put an end commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking (CSE&T) many decades ago.

She and her husband began with setting up a night care centre at Kamathipura, a notoriously squalid red-light area of Mumbai. The idea was to provide a safe ‘home away from home’ environment to vulnerable children of prostitutes. The initiative sought to ensure that the second generation is not exposed to the exploitation of their mothers. It was a revolutionary idea then and has achieved success and recognition.

A year after it was set up, Prerana conceptualised an institutional placement programme (IPP), to provide long-term residential care and development of the children of sex workers.

Former US President James A Garfield once said, “Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.” Identifying with this belief, Prerana initiated an education support programme (ESP) for the children living in red-light areas to ensure social mainstreaming. But merely educating actual/potential victims was not enough. Prerana wanted to be involved in stopping exploitation, so it started an anti-trafficking centre (ATC) and went on to set up the Naunihal Girl’s Shelter for children in dire need of protection and rehabilitation. Finally, its post-rescue operation (PRO) initiative provides professional intervention for rescued victims of sexual exploitation. This includes emergency aid, legal help and, later, counselling, social integration and livelihood opportunities for those seeking to rebuild their lives.

Prerana partners with other NGOs and corporates and receives monetary and non-monetary assistance for its work. Johnson & Johnson helps Prerana with some of its activities. The Blue Star Foundation provides health insurance for up to 200 children. Goldman Sachs helps organise team work activities, and so on. ADM Capital Foundation is an important NGO partner with which Prerana has a joint initiative called ‘Aarambh’ which addresses issues related to sexual exploitation of children from multiple perspectives.

Over the years, Prerana has expanded its reach to over 10,000 children. It has shifted 1,500 children from the red-light areas to welfare institutions. It shelters 250 children on any given night at its three night care centres and covers 1,800 children through a comprehensive educational support programme.

Good work never goes un-noticed and Prerana has received many awards from organisations like UNAIDS and The International STAR Impact Award. It is also a source of knowledge for several national and international organisations, such as UNICEF, UNDP, UNODC, Maharashtra State Commission for Women, Asian Development Bank, and the state and Union government.

Prerana’s work requires a steady supply of caring volunteers and funds. You can help Prerana by donating or joining its mission to stop exploitation. “If you want to see the change, be a part of it,” says Ms Patkar.

Donations to Prerana are tax-exempt under Section 80-G.


Khetwadi Municipal School (Dagdishala) Behind Alankar Theatre

1st Lane, Khetwadi, Grant Road (East), Mumbai 400 004

Phone: +91 22 2387 7637

Email: [email protected]

Like this story? Get our top stories by email.


A Smile is Worth a Million Diamonds
A family in the jewellery business brings some glitter into the lives of the poor and differently-abled in myriad ways
About two decades ago, Mahendra Mehta, a well- known businessman and international Rotarian, set up Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust by pooling resources from his family and friends. Antwerp-born Mahendra Mehta’s mission was to transform the lives of children, helping them to reach their full potential, even if they came from the worst possible financial conditions.
A registered charity, Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, was established and continues to be headed by the family, including trustees Asha Mehta and Rajiv Mehta. Over the decades, its projects cover a wide range of activities and initiatives, not just in India but international locations as well. The Mehtas are the owners of Surat Diamonds. 
Rajiv Mehta, in particular, is passionate about this work and personally presides over the mobility camps for the physically-disabled and the hearing-impaired that the Trust conducts every few months. 
These camps distribute aids, such as callipers for polio-affected children, prosthetic limbs (especially the Jaipur foot, which is light, reasonable and easy to fabricate and adopted by the disabled), wheelchairs and tricycles. The Trust also provides hearing aids and conducts audiology tests for the hearing impaired. All these are provided free of cost. 
The Trust has already conducted several camps in Mumbai this year; at each of these camps 40 to 60 persons were fitted with Jaipur foot or provided orthopaedic or hearing aids and wheelchairs. It has also set up a permanent Jaipur foot centre at Mahalaxmi (central Mumbai). The Trust held a three-day mobility camp at Dakor (Gujarat) in February where 1,365 appliances were distributed to people in need. The joy, says Rajiv Mehta, is in transforming lives and watching how the ability to walk independently increases people’s self-esteem. 
Apart from the Jaipur foot, Ratna Nidhi works with Shuruat Mobility Business, a project launched in Mumbai in collaboration with Shuruat Ltd ( This is an international firm that incubates innovative products and solutions for those at the bottom of the pyramid. One of its goals is to enable the physically-challenged to earn a steady income by running successful street-vending businesses on tricycles. These tricycles enable people to sell food, drinks and packaged goods while sitting on the tricycles. 
The project also provides initial financing, support and guidance to help them build successful micro-businesses. This effort was motivated by the realisation that a significant number of physically-challenged individuals—victims of polio, spinal deformation and amputation—are young adults. Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment rates are very high in this segment and they struggle to achieve financial independence.  
Another activity is the ‘Food for Education’ programme where it partners with NGOs like Masoom, Sujaya Foundation, Sunrise, Children’s Aid Society, Gharkool and Buniyaad, to provide mid-day meals. The Trust offers education sponsorships to children of terror victims in Mumbai, donates books and gives vocational training to the underprivileged. 
According to a recent report on its website, 800 street children and children from remand homes were taught not only to make craft-based products but to manage the entire process—from buying raw materiasl to marketing the finished products. It also ran a 16-day intensive home management training programme for 100 slum girls who were taught skills such as cooking, child-care, caring for the aged, hygiene, cleanliness and grooming. 
You can help Ratna Nidhi’s work by donating to the Trust, by telling the needy disabled about its donation programmes, or by donating educational books, garments, used computers and toys for re-distribution. You can also volunteer to offer vocational training. Money donated to the Trust is eligible for tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income-tax Act.
Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust
5th Floor Vasant Vilas
31, DD Sathye Marg, 
Mumbai - 400004 India
Ph: + 91 226 150 6435 / 23898930
Like this story? Get our top stories by email.


Sosva: Ngo For NGos

An organisation in Mumbai that  provides services and volunteers to other NGOs,

In 1984, a group of visionaries, led by V Srinivasan (IAS, retired), felt the need to build a strong voluntary sector that would work to help the poor and underprivileged to participate effectively in social development. They thought this would be best done by facilitating voluntary initiatives by NGOs and people.

It took formal shape as the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA) which is now headed by Dr Vasant Talwalkar as its president. To meet its objectives, Sosva has undertaken multifarious initiatives, such as promoting volunteering, training and development, as well as supporting projects like safe drinking water, providing livelihoods and teaching English, etc.

Volunteerism Action (Volact) was started in 1995 by registering volunteers from all walks of life to match their skills and interests and placing them with voluntary agencies that need such support. Since inception, it has placed 5,990 volunteers with 215 NGOs; as many as 1,393 volunteers were placed with 52 NGOs only in the last financial year. “SOSVA is the first Indian NGO to promote systematic volunteering through this programme,” says Radha Vedantam, chief executive of SOSVA.

The volunteers offer their services across a wide range of activities such as teaching swimming to special children, conducting workshops on puppet-making, teaching conversational English to orphan children, teaching yoga, arts and crafts, etc.

SOSVA’s Training and Promotion Institute (STAPI) is now a full-fledged institution for capacity building, training and imparting skills to NGOs across a wide range of health and development activities. While STAPI started out as a part of Sosva, it has now been hived off into an independent entity.

Like most NGOs doing ground-breaking work, Sosva’s biggest challenge is to raise resources for its efforts. “We are in the grip of a vicious circle of lack of funds and staff. We need to break free from this to move the institution to a different trajectory of growth and self–sufficiency,” says Ms Vedandam. She explains that SOSVA’s presence is limited only to Mumbai because of lack of funds.  

SOSVA runs a project called MEDIGIFT to provide free medical supplies to hospitals that need such support.

Ms Vedantam says, “Under an Indo-US bilateral agreement, SOSVA receives medical supplies from US donor agencies and distributes these to charitable and needy hospitals in India. Until now, 17 shipments of supplies, valued at Rs27 crore, have been distributed to 38 hospitals.”

SOSVA has been the nodal agency for Family Health International’s programme funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for minimising the risk of AIDS/HIV in Mumbai and Thane districts, through a network of seven partner NGOs.

It is also involved in of volunteer-run activities, such as the Safe Water-Save Water project, to build awareness about water crisis among children in 27 schools. Sosva has initiated a project to enhance reading skills of 8th and 9th standard students in English- and Urdu-medium schools at Dharavi (a Mumbai slum). This too is run by volunteers since March 2012 and is set for extension to two more centres. The spoken English programme for 5th standard students at three different centres.

SOSVA has started a solar light project to install these lamps and bring sunlight into houses in slum communities which are completely dark during the day. These include the Raoli Camp, Cheetah Camp and Aarey Colony. In association with ISS Integrated Facilities Services, Sosva has started a project for livelihood generation. It finds jobs in house-keeping and security services to underprivileged youth.

You can support Sosva’s activities through donations or by registering to volunteer.
Sosva has 80G tax exemption (donation by cash or cheque/DD). You can also donate in kind (books, clothes, and toys for children, computer accessories, electronics and food, etc.)

Room No. 5, 6 & 7, 1st Floor,
Bhimabai Rane Municipal School,
R Roy Marg, Opposite Central
Plaza Cinema, Girgaon,
Mumbai 400 004,
Telephone: +91 022 2291 4630
Email: [email protected]

Like this story? Get our top stories by email.


We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



online financial advisory
Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
online financia advisory
The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Online Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
financial magazines online
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
financial magazines in india
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)