| A new program to support 100 rescued girls at Shaktidhama, Mysore, Karnataka
This January, we visited Shaktidhama, Mysore, Karnataka. 100 pretty young girls welcomed us with chanting and yoga asana demonstration. When you look at these girls’ smiling faces, you do not realize what kind of ordeal they had to come through before reaching to this new home, Shaktidhama, opened in 2017. These girls age from 8 to 16 years old and were rescued from central part of Karnataka state. Many of these girls are from “Devadasi” families. “Devadasi” means “servant to God”, and as a tradition, these girls are offered to God when they reach puberty. This is the beginning of their survival as prostitutes as their mothers and grandmothers were. I could not believe such tradition remains today. Many girls have no choice but simply live their fate. The India government made this practice illegal but it still continues in the rural areas of Karnataka. As a result of this practice, these girls mothers are often HIV victims, living in isolated, impoverished and forgotten world.
Professor Jayadev, Director at Deenabandhu, YGB’s long time NGO partner, has been working on this project for many years and finally got the state government’s grant to build infrastructure to house these girls in 2017. Today, they care 100 girls, including Devadasi girls, orphans, and girls from poor tribal families, who are all vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Prof. Jayadev believes that the best solution to this deep rooted cultural problem is to provide an opportunity to educate these girls. This is the only chance for them to change their fate, empower themselves and start building a life with self-worth and hope.
YGB Seva Trip participants visited Shaktidhama and met with the girls
Ananthu, an advocate of children’s rights and the General Manager of Shaktidhama, drove 250 miles north of Mysore to Central Karnataka region to rescue these girls from horrendous situations in seven different villages. Working with his wife and social worker Usha and local NGOs network, Shaktidhama continues to identify and rescue girls at risk.
With your support, we are funding 25 girls this year as YGB’s new program. As always, we are committed to support each person for a minimum of five years to ensure a chance to seed her transformation.
Please join #OneMillionYogis campaign and consider any amount of support so these girls have a real chance to live with dignity and reach to their dreams.
When we visit their dorm, one girl was reading a book about Yoga Asana, the other girl was studying
English. Every morning, they get up at 5:30am and start with prayer and Yoga. They all go to a local school during the day. There are some girls who go to college and they all study hard to get to the next grade. Freedom of expression, good food and health care have already shown marked progress in all girl’s physical growth, too.
B & W Photos by a renowned photographer Shamanth Patil J to raise awareness
As a Founder/Executive Director of Yoga Gives Back, I have the privilege and responsibility to visit YGB programs in India about once a year since 2007. Witnessing personal stories of our fund recipient mothers, youths and children as well as deepening our relationship with YGB’s NGO partners has been an incredible journey and I want to share it with you all. Our collective global effort is now making a real impact in more than 1000 lives with sustainable support. I will be writing many more stories from our recent Seva Trip in the weeks to come. This is part of an ongoing series from the personal point of view of YGB founder Kayoko Mitsumatsu. To read more check outKayoko’s Journey.