About New Light
New Light is a registered public charitable trust operating from the terrace of a temple deep inside the red-light district of Kalighat, Kolkata that offers comprehensive community development services. The project provides the children of sex workers a safe haven, particularly in the evening hours when streets are the most dangerous and the mothers are working.
Initiated by caring for 9 children in the year 2000, the programs of New Light today serves more than 250 children of various age groups. The services offered by New Light includes education, healthcare, nutritional support, recreational facility, HIV/AIDS care, income generation opportunities for the women and residential care for many of the young children from the community. Legal aid and advocacy against gender based violence are other thrust areas of New Light`s operation.
Over the years, New Light has set up multiple facilities to cater to the needs of children and young adults at risk. New Light Shelter for children from the Dalit community caters to the children of municipal crematorium and sanitation workers who have traditionally been treated as untouchables. Though these are not children of sex workers, these children live in equally precarious circumstances, exposed to violence and subjected to discrimination and social stigma. In New Light, the children receive support to continue formal education, remedial education, nutrition and healthcare.
The residential facility Soma Memorial Girls Home located in the southern fringe of the city protects adolescent girls at risk. Thirty-seven girls with age ranging between 6 and 18 years reside and are cared for by dedicated staff recruited within the community. The home offers the children a variety of support, such as counselling, therapeutic activities, dance, music, yoga and boxing lessons help them to grow and develop into healthy young women. Outstanding performance and accolades have become normal for girls who come from extremely challenged back ground. Upon graduating from Soma Memorial Girls Home young girls move to the adult home named New Light Sonar Tori. The residents, between 18 and 23 pursue higher education, professional or vocational training programs.
Jhinuk located in Kalighat and HTS Operation Starfish located in Sonagachhi, the two pre primary care centres run by New Light. They meet the growing demand from mothers to strengthen care for the toddlers whose needs are largely neglected. The schools follow traditional as well as the Montessori system of teaching and accommodate around 50 toddlers and older children up to the age of five. Early life cognitive stimulation, in a nurturing atmosphere, is the main goal of these two centers.
Khela Ghar, a residential home run by New Light is the latest addition to the bouquet of services provided. Set up at the end of 2014 the Boys Home is run in the same manner as Soma Memorial Girls Home, offering similar facilities and opportunities to male children of women engaged in the community.
Through these shelters, New Light strives to construct an environment of security, stability, care and affection to give each child a normal, healthy childhood challenging the daily traumas they experience.
Apart from these facilities, New Light operates a Community Clinic to address the medical needs of the sex worker community. The clinic treats gynaecological, paediatric, STD, HIV-AIDS, and general medicine cases. For those exposed to or infected by HIV, provisions are in place to provide assistance with hospital visits, testing, and treatment, along with additional care and support in the form of food aid. As part of the Outreach Program, health workers visit homes, monitor the use of medications and counsel the women. Services like counselling, health education, behavioural change communication, building social awareness, provision of micro-credit, legal aid and other assistance of beneficial relevance are indispensable to the process of empowering the women.