The Freeset Trust is a registered Indian trust based in Kolkata’s Sonagachi and Ram-Bagan districts. An independently governed NGO, the Trust collaborates with Freeset’s business to ensure that we are supporting our staff beyond just providing jobs. The trust also engages in projects outside of Freeset’s business, supporting the local community and partnering with other like-minded businesses.
The communities we inhabit often face needs beyond employment, and the Trust seeks to engage parts of the community that normal businesses cannot. At present, the Trust has a special focus on the Sonagachi community and funds several projects in the red-light area.
The Cup: It is a cafe exclusively for the women of Sonagachi where they can hang around, chat over chai and have a time of fun. The cafe is located right at the beginning of the community. Besides snacking on food like sandwiches, pakora, omelettes, hot and cold drinks, the cup enables them to indulge in activities such as nail art, pedicures, paper craft, jewellery making, and ceramic decorations. The core purpose of the Cup is building relationships that will act as a bridge for deeper and longer-lasting transformation.
Kolkata to Kathmandu: There is a sizeable community of Nepali women who have been trafficked from Nepal and have ended up in the brothels of Sonagachi. The Trust has developed programs to support them to return to their hometown by assisting in legal procedures, sending them with a trusted companion, arranging travel, accommodation, counselling, medical and social support on arrival to Nepal. Freeset’s business has also partnered with freedom businesses in Nepal to help them find employment.
Child Sponsorship: Education is a means to radically impact the trajectory of the youth in our community. The Freeset Trust manages an education sponsorship program that routes funds to families in need to send their children to a proper school. The fund supports families employed in Freeset and those in other communities and organisations.
Tamar is a key department of the Freeset Business. It was established in response to a growing need at Freeset for a more formalized structure to manage the enormous social and health needs of our staff. Freeset Trust has supported Tamar since its inception, providing funds to support the department and ensure effective support for the staff at Freeset. While most expenses are borne by Freeset’s business, the Trust is a key supporter of the department. At present, some of Tamar’s key activities include:
Health Support Services: The health of our women has always been a concern because of poverty, abuses, and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Tamar periodically conducts women’s health check-ups that prompt them to maintain a healthy lifestyle and detect diseases early. The women’s health education programs empower them with medical information to make well-informed healthcare decisions. Tamar also provides health advocacy for women who need help to access health services and support during times of illness.
Counselling Services: Women deal with issues such as confusion around sexuality or intimate relationships, trauma, anxiety, or depression and/or feel isolated and fear being judged. Freeset conducts group therapy sessions that help women to find freedom from their past burdens. We offer them a safe and understanding environment to talk through anything and everything. Where necessary, we also provide one-to-one sessions for women who need special help. Healing is a gradual, soul-building process. We continue to support them on their journey of breaking free from the chains that bind them to a life of victory and hope.
Case Management: There are extreme challenges for women who work in the trade and many of these challenges persist when they try to exit from the trade. They sometimes face opposition from close friends, family members, and the greater community. They face challenges with debt, legal obligations and finding housing. Team Tamar helps individual women to get through the transition. It may be rescuing them from abusive partners, finding a new address or admission for their children. Tamar sees to it the women have a smooth exit from the past life and experiences to a brighter future.
Freeset’s business offers creche facilities to its employees within the work premises. Infants to children aged six can enjoy this facility while their mothers work. Women can visit their children during break hours and have lunch together. The creche provides a protective and caring environment where they can rest, play and learn. The Trust has been a key supporter and donor to the creche, providing it with supplies and food for the children in the program. The creche has trained staff, well-ventilated facilities, bedding, cradles, play arrangements, a kitchen, washroom and facility to wash soiled clothes of babies. The biggest benefit of having a creche around is our working moms feel relaxed, there is less absenteeism from work, more focus, and greater motivation and commitment.