I got the honor to meet Urmi Basu on November 6th, 2013 at the Daughters of Greatness breakfast, held at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. The Daughters of Greatness breakfast series throughout the year invites women who are social activists and engaged in pursuits of justice to join together with one another and honor the accomplishment of one well deserved social justice activist. Urmi Basu is known from her appearance and work being featured with other great women in the documentary Half The Sky televised on the PBS network and based off of the popular novel written by New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn. I was simply inspired by her ability to impact a community that could possibly be dangerous to take part in. Her story is one to remember.
Ms. Basu is a woman with a clear mission and who works to save girls from becoming victim of sexual exploitation; as a sociologist, she focuses on more than two hundred children that have mothers as sex workers. Basu is confident in sharing information about education, healthcare and nutritional support, as well as the opportunity to live free of abuse and violence. She has been to numerous international seminars and conferences that cover stories about human trafficking, the spread of HIV/AIDS, social justice within the community, and the rights of children. Started in 2000, Urmi with only two hundred dollars to her name began New Light and it is now a non-profit community development project and charitable trust based in Kalighat, Kolkata, one of the oldest red light districts of the city. It is dedicated to providing educational opportunities, recreational facilities, healthcare and legal aid for the children, girls and women impacted by forced prostitution. The agency was named New Light hinting that there is always light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Today Urmi Basu continues to give children hope in finding a way out of the lifestyle of prostitution and being trafficked. She states “On a global scale the problem of prostitution is so complex and huge that I would be completely overwhelmed if I think about it. I choose to reduce the aperture of my vision and concentrate my energy only on things that I can do. The mission of New Light is to promote gender equality through education and life-skill training, thereby reduce harm caused by violence and abuse to women and young children.” Women of all communities are invited to join and encouraged help make a difference.
For more information about this amazing agency, visit http://www.newlightindia.org! There you will find ways to donate to her current events and opportunities that allow you to volunteer and show your support. There are also internship position available for those of whom would like to work first hand in creating social justice for the children of the red light district. Also feel free to visit halftheskymovement.org to watch the film via online and view the other activist involved in changing the communites around them! Let’s make a difference.