Connecting local responses around the world
[My sincere thanks to Vivek Anand, Ashok Row Kavi and Sridhar of Humsafar Trust for sharing this story. Humsafar Trust (HST) has led the way in developing innovative and effective programs targeting MSM and transgender populations in India. I am very proud of the Humsafar team. Vivek narrates this story. Enjoy! Rituu]
Today: At Humsafar Center
We were in the Research room with all of us singing farewell songs for Murugesh who was about to leave us for 30 months to do his second masters, from the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine.
Some two years ago at a TISS convocation
It was the 68th convocation day of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Around 250 students would pass out of TISS. I had waited for this day for years. I was one among the 250 who had come to cheer their children. Then the students seated in the third-last row got up, and one of them, Muruges as he moved with his group, just bowed down to seek blessings from me. Within a few seconds, years flashed in front of my eyes.
Some nine years ago at Humsafar Trust
Murugesh had come to us as an 18-year-old high school dropout. Murugesh was a typical college going student exploring his sexuality and who would enjoy being with friends and would like to spend late nights with them. However, in 2000 Murugesh’s life took a drastic turn when his father threw him out of the house. Murugesh began living with a transgender friend, and now he turned to cross dressing to earn a livelihood and along with a friend began dancing in a bar. Around the same time Murugesh met Naresh an Outreach worker from Humsafar Trust. He told Murugesh about joining Humsafar as an outreach worker. Murugesh looked at this as an opportunity to make peace with his father and also restart his education.
Hence, Murugesh joined Humsafar as an outreach worker in 2001. He was a bad performer as an outreach worker and was almost on the verge of being thrown out when our counseling head, Vrushali, saw some potential in him and asked me if he could work with her. As a community counselor Murugesh discovered his potential for counselling. In six months’ time, he became the first community counselor at Humsafar, and a year later, he decided to go back to school to pursue his graduation. Three years later, he was a graduate in psychology and had taken the TISS entrance test and succeeded. He had to go away for two years. His mentors Vrushali and Priti had gone away to the US, and now he was carving a place for himself. Before he left, I told him that he was my biggest dream, and I know by saying that, I was putting pressure on him to do well.This boy had it in him and he would do well for himself.
Some two years ago at TISS convocation
Two years later, I was part of his convocation day, watching our dream come true. Murgesh won the best student award. He came back to Humsafar as Research Manager and presented papers at the Toronto International AIDS Conference and Mexico International AIDS conference. He applied for admission for his second masters, from the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine. It was a long wait while his application was processed, and finally he won a seat in the prestigious school with the full scholarship of 72,500 UK pounds.
Today: At the airport
We were all there to say one more short goodbye to Murgi (as he is affectionately called). Today, I did not have any tears in my eyes... I just kept looking at my boy who walked confidently into the international air terminal to commence his next journey to success.
At Humsafar, we have many success stories to tell, but today's success is our biggest achievement, for today does not belong to us... TODAY belongs to our Murgi and to the spirit of a youngster who has become a dream and inspiration for many.