onsdag 16 mars 2016

International Women's Day

One day outing to Bhennerghatta Park and Zoo to celebrate Women's Day

Bhennerghatta Zoo
Thanks to sponsoring companies such as Indpro, Scania and the Heat, we managed to take the girls and women out for a one day trip to Bhennerghatta national park and zoo, in order to celebrate Women's Day which occurred on the 8th of March. Certainly does these former victims of sex trafficking truly deserve a treat like this! They girls and women were very happy, and all to brave ... Even though one girl was sick she insisted on joining. Since all the other girls were putting on their finest dresses, so to did she, and came along. She was actually really ill, but well taken care of afterwards. Together we enjoyed our food from the Heat on the bus, we visited the park, enjoyed dinner at a restaurant, and we took a tour inside the wildlife safari. The girls and women were so happy all day long, and a lot of them danced inside the bus on the way home back to the shelter. The youngest girl (at the moment in the shelter, 14 years old) also danced, and gave me flowers. Such a sweetheart! They all are!  On the way home I got to learn about some women's sicknesses. It seems as though one have to be really keen on proper check-ups so that doctors don't give wrong diagnoses. Again, who cares about theses women, if not the staff at NGOs, such as Vidyaranya?! Thank you all dear colleagues Raji and Shilpa, as well as our guest Miriam. Due to safety and integrity reasons I can't post all photos online. 

Raje, me and Shilpa

Thank you kindly all sponsors for making this trip come real, without you it would have been hard to achieve! Thanks to you we managed to bring 30 girls and women out for this adventure, that has formally suffered from being victims of human trafficking. 

For more info about IT-company Indpro, please visit: www.indpro.se
For more info about automotive company Scania, please visit: www.scania.com
 For more info about the Heat - Mexican cafe & grill, please visit: www.facebook.com/theheatcafe/

söndag 28 februari 2016

Pampering day at Scent to light up a life

 Scent makes a difference in fighting injustices

On the 24th of February people were invited to Scent on a pampering day. Invited guests could get pampered with the exquisite Moroccan oil hair spa, get foot massage and nail coloring, all along with wine and chocolate. This endeavor was done, not only for us women to get a bit spoiled, but also in order to support victims of sex trafficking at Vidyaranya's Ujjawala shelter, as half of the revenue went to the shelter. The Manager and Director of the trendy hair and spa salon Scent, Mrs. Krishma Lobo and Mr. Vijay Lobo, are both active in the fight against social injustices. Not only do they have amazing services at their salons, but they are both ever so kind and caring people, and I am so grateful to have met them.

Keep your ears and eyes for next event! Normally a Moroccan oil hair spa goes for 4 500 INR, but at the event guest got all for 1000 which is really a good deal!

Thank you kindly Krishma and Vijay! You can check Scent out here: https://www.facebook.com/ScentSalonSpaBangalore

torsdag 11 februari 2016

Donations from a Scania employee and a Swedish volunteer

A Scania employee and Swedish volunteer visits the shelter in order to contribute with funds as well as building material

On the 30th of January a Scania employee visited the shelter in order to hand over a donation of 10 000 INR. This was donated as a gift in honor to someone special, namely his child as it was the child's birthday. Truly, a gift of giving! What a generous and selfless family!

I have been trying to make Scania and their CSR staff to pay a visit to the shelter for some time now, and hopefully this can be the starting point for some long-term cooperation. Scania has and are executing very good CSR-initiatives, but in Bangalore I hope we can work together for better social sustainability initiatives. There is a link between sex trafficking and the trucking industry, and the corporates can here play an active role in contributing towards eradicating sexual exploitation, and the dark sides of globalization.

On the 3rd of February, Dan Svensson (from our apartment complex) visited the shelter for the second time. He brought with him building material in order to fix the broken bathroom door. The girls have not been able to get some privacy in there for a very long time, so this initiative was very much needed (and in India you have neighbors almost everywhere). 

Social worker Shilpa with handyman Dan

Mr. Praveen (at Scania) and Dan Svensson, thank you kindly for your time and donations!

Scania is one of Sweden's largest companies by turnover,
and is a leading manufacturer in the automotive industry

lördag 23 januari 2016

One day adventure with the girls

Coffee meeting and buying material for vocational training 


Yesterday I met with Shilpa (social worker) and Raji (program manager) from the NGO Vidyaranya, at the café Raintree, for updates and to discuss future actions. We also met in order to buy material for vocational training. Raintree is located opposite ITC Windsor Manor Hotel, in a colonial bungalow surrounded with boutiques, and sometimes exhibitions. Not only is the café and boutiques a must to visit, especially since the ambiance is very cozy, but I also wanted to show the girls this place as a possible location for their future collection of handicrafted jewelry. 

When sipping our coffee, Shilpa and Raji informed me about some newcomers in the shelter. Things never stops to amaze me here, how this community and culture is so different from ours, yet so similar ... but things are very much tabu and stigmatized here. For example, sometimes it might happen that teenagers fall in love, but the parents can obviously not agree to this, so they sometimes accuse the boy for rape and tries to institutionalize the girl. You see, parents are accountable to the surrounding community, the school teachers, and the police. And of course, to add to this we have the issue of dowry, which everyone can not afford to pay to the other family. When a girl is "damaged"  the family suffer tremendously and sometimes feel that they have no other option than to send away the girl. It happens so many times that when a girl is raped, the family also tries to force the girl into marriage. Whatever the reason is for girls being in a shelter, is is a huge challenge to help these girls to get integrated back into society again, and at the same time help these girls to become self sustainable. 

Chikpett, Bangalore
In the shelter, sometimes, we face girls with totally different backgrounds and stories. Most are, of course, victims of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Regardless backgrounds, it is always very sad to meet young girls and hear their stories of how they have been exploited or abused, in way or another. However, I strongly believe that institutionalization is not the right way to go about things (which can be the case in some state homes and other shelter facilities). Yesterday we also discussed another case, of a woman who had fallen in love with a man who sexually exploited her and sold her to his friends. The woman later became pregnant, and is now expecting to have her child any time soon at the shelter. The woman had two kids since an earlier marriage as well. What type of future will this woman have? These things are so stigmatized here. Can you imagine Sweden ever treating women like this?! 

Of course, Sweden has developed over a long time. In the development of society from the 1700s until 2000s, one can interpret great changes in men's and women's roles. The woman has gone from her place in the home out to the working life. Now, the history of India is of course completely different with, for example, colonialization and the cast system. However, there is a great need for India to change. Personally I think there is a need to control the population rate and focus more on equal human rights, rather than focus too much on religion. I have nothing against religion at all, but I do not understand how people rather pray and worship instead of helping each other and less fortunate people. Action, rather than worshipping will help this country to progress. Sweden has of course their black spots as well, remember, it was not long ago since we forced sterilized women (up to the 1970s, the practice and debate later continued for transexual people).

Shilpa bargaining for us @ Chikpett 
After having our coffee at Raintree we decided to head out to buy some material for the girls in the shelter so that they can undertake vocational training. Funds for this was used from the christmas donations, as we still had some left. We went to a place called Chikpett market, near Majestic. This place has cheap whole sale items, and our best bet at finding all the items we needed for jewelry making. Shilpa, ever so considerate and happy, constantly worried about my safety and inquired if I was tired. Such a sweet girl! After taking the wrong turns a few times, we finally found a store which had all products we were seeking. It took many hours, but we finally found everything! This area is quite dodgy, and one old man asked Shilpa where she was taking us, insinuating that she was taking us to a location where she could sell us. Possibly cause Shilpa was holding my hand in a firm grip leading us into dodgy roads. The area is known for being a source area for sexual exploitation and kidnappings. Safe and sound, in the early evening we were done and headed out from the market with the help of an auto. We said good buy and decided to meet up the next coming week. 

Shilpa, me and Raji

måndag 21 december 2015

Christmas Donations

The Gift of Giving - Merry Christmas 

On the 21st of December I headed out to the girls in the shelter, to deliver christmas donations that I was able to buy thanks to many caring people back home and here in Bangalore. We did it last year, and thankfully we could do it again this year. It is truly a gift and blessing to be able to help others in need. Thanks to all donations hair oil, sanitary pads, shampoo, dosa phava and some other pots, inner wear, sweaters and some other clothes, toys, combs, chocolate and biscuits could be delivered. So far, during December, approximately 50 000 INR has been raised.

Funds will also be used for material for vocational training, so that the girls can become self sustainable and live a dignified life. The IT-company Indpro also told us today that they want to commit with monthly support. This we are very grateful for! Unfortunately I had a huge problem with transportation, so I had to rush in and delivered the gifts, otherwise the driver did not want to take me back, and I had a midnight plane to catch. I will see the girls in early January, then we can spend some more time together. I always like to hear how the are, and if they need anything special.

Thank you kindly all of you who donated, the girls in the shelter really care that others care about them! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! Hopefully the new year will bring more happiness to less fortunate people - we can all try and do our best to help along the road!

lördag 19 december 2015

Run & Shop for a Cause

Run for a Cause and Christmas market 

Me & Rakesh
On Sunday the 13th of December I ran my first half Marathon, actually I ran for a cause, for victims of sex trafficking. I was a bit nervous since I've never run this long distance before, but my friend Rakesh was also there. It was really fun to attend and complete the race, and at the same time awareness was raised about the victims of sex trafficking.

Santa hands out gifts
Later, the same afternoon, I made it back to our apartment complex to sit in a stall during our Christmas market in PB. I shared a stall with Danish/ Canadian friends and together we sold "ris à la malta" and Danish cookies. I also brought some of the girls from the shelter to the market so that they could do some income generating activities. So next to our stall three girls from the NGO sat, and they sold handcrafted items. This was not only a form of income generating activities for the girls, but also awareness raising. During this event participant could also donate towards charity. 

Vidyaranya stall
Our stall

onsdag 9 december 2015

Clothes party to benefit victims of sex trafficking

Fashion clothes designer Deepa, with the brand Encrustd, supports victims of sex trafficking in a astonishing way 

Deepa, me and Deepa (from Encrustd)

Me and Daniella
in DnR collection
In "Diamonds and Rust" we all came together. Yesterday, 9th of December, there was a home party in my flat. The very generous and kindhearted business woman Deepa Chikarmane, with the brand Encrustd, displayed and sold clothes from her new collection called Diamond and Rust. Not only did Deepa want to sell her clothes,  and do brand marketing, Deepa's commitments stretches far beyond this. She doesn't only focus on being a successful business woman, she is doing it with a CSR-focus, to benefit victims of sex trafficking. 

To build and sustain brands that people really like, one must focus, not only on today but on tomorrow as well. To short term with long term goals is not easy, however, it is the key deliver sustainable, profitable growth. A growth that is good for all stakeholders, employees, consumers, business partners, as well as our surrounding communities. Deepa knows and understands this. Hence, she decided to support victims in our shelter with some percentage from the sales at the home party. This in turn will help former victims to get training and to become self sustainable. A lot of people bought clothes, they mingled, had some wine and finger food. In total, it was a success! I can not thank you enough Deepa! And thanks all of you who shopped for a good cause!

It takes many years to build a good reputation, but it only takes minutes to ruin it. Encrusted takes CSR to a whole new level, and I hope many will follow in their good steps.  

You can check out and order Deepa's clothes here: http://www.encrustd.com