Connecting local responses around the world
I am very upset that I am writing this as I have suffered a major loss with passing away of Dr Jana, one of my mentors.
When at UNAIDS, I had exchanged emails with him. I left UNAIDS. First of my assignments happen to be the IDRC project on documentation and advocacy by sex workers with Dr Veronica Magar. This 2 year project was with DMSC and WNU when I got to collaborate with DMSC team of Paramita, Santanu, Mitra di, Samaita and others. I went on to work with him in many other initiatives later.
I recollect one memory which stands out for me when I met him as a young researcher. On my first visit to Durbar about 10 years ago, I finally met Dr Jana whom everyone spoke about. He was very down to earth, gentle and his learning came from sex worker communities.
He asked me with a twinkle in his eye, "what would you like out of this project?" I responded that I would like the sex workers to be the lead in the research because they are the experts of their experience. He smiled and said, "now I can welcome you to Durbar because sex workers have to be at the centre. Everyone has worth."
For the first time I went on to use Constellation's learning cycle Community life competence process in participatory action research part of IDRC project. It set the stage for what I was do in my life- how can I learn from the communities and not be their 'teacher'.
I can no longer pick up the phone and call him up, to hear his voice and learn from his insight. I will miss him tremendously.
(Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) in Kolkata, India largest sex worker collecive in Asia lost its Chief Advisor Dr. Smarajit Jana on 8th of May 2021. He has well known for public health initiatives and facilitated sex workers community fighting for worker's rights and recognisation.)