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The open door to Freeset

Posted by: commsdesign
Oct 16, 2015

Tamar is an initiative of the Freeset Trust and it has a small community centre in Sonagacchi (Kolkata’s oldest and largest red light area). Five days a week (and every alternate Saturday) the doors of the Tamar Community Centre are open wide to the women Sonagacchi who come to paint their nails, enjoy a quiet cup of tea, sleep, talk, or play board games. The Tamar team uses these simple non-threatening activities to engage and build relationships with the women. On average 15-25 women visit the centre on a daily basis.

It takes time to build trust but once relationships are established the women begin to visit the community centre more and more often. This daily contact with women trapped in the red light area of Sonagacchi leads to conversations about freedom and, eventually, conversations about the possibility of leaving the sex trade. In the red light area of Sonagacchi Tamar is well known and thanks to the tireless work of the community centre manager and her support staff they have developed many healthy working relationships with the girls, madams, pimps and gangs of Sonagacchi.

Tamar drop-in centre

Many women who live and work Sonagacchi have heard about Freeset, but most don't know where the factory is located. The community centre acts as a doorway to Freeset. Many of the women Freeset hires first visit the community centre and are then brought across to visit Freeset. Through this visit the women have the chance to see the factory in action and meet hundreds of other women who were in similar situations to themselves that are now finding freedom through working at Freeset. It also provides them with a sense of what the work is like and a glimpse of what is possible.

The manager of Tamar has been with Freeset from the beginning and deeply understands the situations of the women working in-line in Sonagacchi. Her compassion and love for these women is incredible. The transformation that has taken place in her own life shines out of her and she is much loved and respected by all at Freeset and the wider community. She is not alone in her work but is supported by two other amazing women who have also dedicated their lives to bringing the possibility of freedom to the women of Sonagacchi who would otherwise be despised and marginalized by society.

Relationships can’t be rushed and trust takes time to build but with perseverance and patience the brave team of Tamar have seen many women start their journey to freedom. It may start small with an open door, a welcoming smile, and some new nail polish, but can lead to a life transformed.




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