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Gitanjali Babbar

Gandhi Fellow 2010

UG - Journalism Honours, Maharaja Agrasen College, Delhi University

PG - Diploma in Development Communication, Jamia Milia Islami University

I was always interested in social change from my younger days, being involved in street theatre and activism. But, I was still not clear about my private dream, what I wanted to commit my life to. After my Post Graduation from Jamia Milia Islamia, I joined the Fellowship and the 2 years I spent in rural Rajasthan. Working with schools gave me the clarity to find my path and the confidence to follow it. After the Fellowship, I founded Kat-Katha, an organization that is currently working on creating life choices and alternative livelihoods for women in difficult circumstances and women living at the fringes of law.

Kat-Katha works for sex workers who are sought-out for pleasure and disposed off as criminals. It aims at improving the life of sex workers through their interventions and efforts which might or might not be further explored as alternative livelihood choices for them. In a world, where we all are, nothing but mere puppets, some are more unfortunate than the others! While our strings are in better hands, their strings lead nowhere! At Kat-katha we aim to empower these unfortunate puppets (sex workers). We present a series of life choices to these women and their children so that they can make better informed choices.

Going beyond traditional approaches of working with sex workers, which is to create awareness on sexual health, we empower women in to fulfil their fundamental aspirations, we open up an array of possibilities which make them explore performing and fine arts, tactile work with hands- like designing, weaving and stitching. This slowly creates an elementary shift in the mind set of the sex workers to explore alternate life choices, both within and without the world of brothels.

25 sex workers are now finishing their training at the brothels and ready to join the team at the training centre. Kat-Katha envisions to work with 77 brothels in GB Road Delhi, where over 3000 sex workers reside. The organisation aims to create a life of dignity within the brothels and enabes sex workers to access alternate life choices.
“The fellowship was a turning point in my life that allowed me to clarify the direction I should take in my life. Each day working hard providing field support to Headmasters and then reflecting about the same in the evening really churned my life. The outcome was a clearer vision towards my future. Today I am working in my area which is youth, as a Program Director in an organization called Masoom. I am sure that through the training that have I received as a fellow, I can genuinely contribute towards the success of this initiative.”

Pallavi Gandhalikar
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“The people and experiences in the fellowship was a real life changer for me. My area of interest had always been working with orphans, and during my last 6 months I was able to research and study that area. I was also given an opportunity to work with organizations and experts dealing with orphans. The entire journey has fortified my inner resolve to accomplish what I set out to do. Through all the support I have received at the fellowship, I have clearly moved in the direction that I can relate to. Today I am working with India Sponsorship Committee’s Vidayapeeth Project that is committed to protecting Child Rights in Pune.”

Mayuri Joshi
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“The experience of Gandhi Fellowship proved to be useful because it has made me capable of making my own decisions. I have also learned the true meaning of working with a team of diversely qualified and capable individuals. It has been a very valuable experience to understand how each individual stands at his/her position in the context of life and the society around. It has made me realise that change is possible with a strategic and constructive approach. It has certainly added a page in the journey of my life and it has given me the right direction to move along the path.”

Kshitij Ramkrishna Patil
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“Fellowship brought clarity and conviction towards my life’s goal. My interests lie in creating models of self sustained village so as to control migration happening from villages to cities and to make it an interdependent economy. I have taken a first step to understand youth and learn how to convince others of one’s idea; working with fresh college youth shall give me a perspective of what they want and what I need to do so as to convince them of my idea.”

Atul Kotnala
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)