Connecting local responses around the world
‘A catering unit managed by a sex worker CBO and staffed with street based sex workers is certainly an amazing attempt’, says Sr.Ancy, In charge of Kanivu, Ernakulam, who orders food regularly from ‘Swantham Catering Unit’ for the programmes conducted at Kanivu Auditorium. ‘Initially we were hesitant to order food from this unit due to varied reasons. We were doubtful about the quality, taste, neatness, punctuality, etc. We were also afraid about the response of our customers owing to the stigma associated with the lifestyle of the executors. But we became astonished with their very first performance and now we are totally satisfied with their services’, she frankly continued.
‘In fact, the Catering Unit is visualized as an income generation programme for the CBO. Fortunately it is now becoming a reason for change in the perception and attitude of the general public towards our stakeholder community’, Ms. Swapna Soman, Project Manager of Swantham Suraksha Project stated. ‘Stakeholders who involved in the activities of the catering unit viz. preparation, supply, marketing, etc. are also enthusiastic, about positive strokes received from the public’, she continued. ‘When people dine on the food we prepared and catered, we feel worthy of ourselves’ Prameela, a 40 year old sex worker, opined. ‘It also helps us recognize ourselves as part of the society’ Shobha and Stella added.
The Catering unit has now become a major source of income to the CBO. From the profits of the services, they have purchased own gas stoves, necessary utensils, a refrigerator, etc. to the Unit. They have also started a beauty parlor in their Drop-in-Centre using income from the catering unit. Plans are on to purchase a vehicle for transporting food from the kitchen to the catering venues.
The Unit has tie-up with seven institutions owning auditoriums and conference halls in the City of Cochin. The office bearers of the Unit are confident enough to attain more contacts and more orders to the catering unit. They are also planning to start a canteen attached to the Drop-in-Centre strictly for FSWs in the City and Mid-day meal parcel service to the employees of various institutions in the City.