Connecting local responses around the world
Nari Saksham is a federation of 10 Sex worker CBOs in Andhra Pradesh supported by CARE India. I am the project coordinator of Community Life competence project with Nari Saksham. India competence is facilitating this process. I am posting the story shared by Nagamani a community facilitator which I have translated from Telugu to English. This is my first story on this network. Hope you like it.
During my first SALT visit to Dommaripeta, after a brief introduction on the purpose of the visit, community members were asked to share their concerns and hopes. Participants were used to listening to the visitors, who told them what was not working and what was good for them and what they should do. So when the community was asked to share its concerns and hopes they were silent for some time.
Then Nagamani the facilitator started sharing few success stories from her previous experience which encouraged community members to share their experiences.
The participants belonged to ‘Dommara’ community and they are the traditional sex workers. As a family tradition the eldest daughter of the family is dedicated to serve as a sex worker. They shared their experience as to how they were ill treated and discriminated by the other group of people in their surrounding areas. They were not invited to any social gatherings, functions in their locality and they were looked down by the other caste people. The men used to drink and the women were always fighting with each other for silly reasons, creating lot of disturbance in the locality. There was no unity at all.
During such period one Pasteur Mr.Shastri aged around 23 years, approached this community and started conducting prayer meetings and preached about Christ and his sayings. He continued to do so for a couple of years. Members of this dommara community got engrossed to these prayer meetings and today after 4 years they proudly declare that the Pasteur has taught them the essence as to how to lead a true life. His presence with them since the last 4 years has added color to their lives.
They all stand united now. They are more disciplined and lead a better life than before. They have elected one of the members as their president and consider his decision to be the final verdict for any issue or problem raised in their community. Being a close knit community they never depend on others to solve their problems. They have their way of dealing with police. Police never disturb them as it is a family tradition.
Because of this change they are being invited for the social gatherings or functions in their homes by the other community who has ill treated and discriminated them 4 years back. At the same time the other community members are also attending the prayer meetings conducted by this dommara community and have lunch together on the same platform.
Now all of them share happiness or joy together during any festive occasion or social gathering. The Dommara community thanks the Pasteur for this great encouraging change in their lives.