UDAAN – A Ray of Hope for Children Caught in the Trap of Prostitution


By Gitanjali N. Persaud

There are many things in life over which we have no control. Our first and last breath; who our parents, siblings, children, friends or bosses will be; into which country, religion, ethnicity or culture we are born; or even into what social and economic circumstances we are born. But what we have some amount of control over is how much we can stretch ourselves to make this world a better place for the less fortunate, isn’t it?

If we have no choice over our place of birth, our ethnic makeup, our children, or our religion, can we stretch ourselves to see each child as our own? Each cause as our own? Each suffering as our own? What does it take the raise the social conscience of a people to take a stance against injustice and suffering? A stance for any causes that uplift human values? It starts with us and the willingness to do whatever it takes to save one cause at a time. One circumstance at a time. One life at a time.

One of the causes very dear to my heart is the suffering of women and children, especially children who are powerless at the hands of the very adults in society who are supposed to protect them.

Can you imagine a system in which you have no standing in society? A system in which your daughters are forced, by the nature of their economically or socially poor birth, to serve in temples or to become the sacrifice for their families’ financial survival? A system where human’s greed is fixed on your daughters’ hymen. A system in which your daughters become slaves in temples, and become the toys of the priests, only to be later sold off into a life of sexual slavery? Or a system where your daughters at tender ages are sold off to older sheik’s in the name of marriage only to be later abandoned after these degenerates have had their fill of them? A system which then shuns these victims, not yet adults, and forces them into a life of prostitution to earn a meagre meal? A system in which four and five year olds are sold into prostitution because their parents are too ill to provide for them? Just imagine if these were the systems into which we were born and raised? What would an offer of support, a hand in help mean to us when our only reality has been exploitation at the hands of fellow human beings?

UDAAN, a project undertaken by the Art of Living Foundation, with support from volunteers across the globe, is a ray of hope to end this cycle of prostitution into which children are born. There are many other projects across the globe aimed at helping children escape the destiny of prostitution. UDAAN is one such project. UDAAN’s scope is to build a home to house these children, starting with batches of 50, and to educate, feed, clothes and house these children in to a life away from human exploitation. (I will detail next week the scope of child prostitution around the globe).

To support Project UDAAN, international jazz singer, Vikram Hazra, is undertaking a series of benefit concerts across the USA to raise funds to offer a “brick of hope” to this vulnerable group. One such concert is going to be held in Rockaway, Queens, on November 4th between 6.00 pm – 9.00 p.m. The venue is PS 226, 121-10 Rockaway Blvd, Queens, 11420. Even if you cannot attend, you can support by buying a ticket to offer “a brick of hope”.

Local artiste will also be performing, including Romanee Kalicharran, Ashley Rai, Sanasee Dance Troupe, Sultan, Rita & Lako. For more information, contact Devika @ 917-7561176, Roma @ 516-359-9873 or Sandra 718-206-1006.