We are excited to announce that we organised our first Safe Village Program in the region of Bastar, Chhatisgarh, thus marking the beginning of a new (ninth) state to raise awareness and empower the community about sex trafficking with our innovative tools – comic books, flipcharts, helpline and counselling.
During the sunny mid-afternoon on Saturday, 4 December 2021, villagers happily welcomed the team of My Choices Foundation. Our team found shade to begin a meaningful exchange. When our Program Director, Vivian Issac, explained the purpose of the visit and what the Safe Village Program is all about, villagers paid careful attention to anti-trafficking messages. It instilled their curiosity and they had questions. This also helped our team to rediscover the passion and the intent of the work we do – as it happens in each of the Safe Village Programs – to create a safe living and thriving environment for every girl in the nation of India.
We started with our Safe Village Program in Jagdalpur, Chattisgarh due to a newspaper article we came across two years ago and have been working to make inroads in the state since then. In February 2020, a leading English newspaper daily reported that six trafficked children were rescued in Andhra Pradesh and one little girl was from Jagdalpur. Her little fingers were soiled and toiled because of numerous hours of labour work. We had been working with our network to find the right partner, who aligns with the mission of My Choices Foundation and were elated when we found one who is equally passionate as us.
As time passed, comic books were distributed and our engaging flip charts were a huge success too. The messages of Good Fathers, Informed Mothers, Guardian Girls and Smart Boys resonated with the villagers. It was an active and participatory discussion. As people made sense of the messages, two families came forward and said that two boys and one girl had gone missing two years ago. We gathered as much information possible to file a police complaint and with the help of our stakeholders are making efforts to get the children back home.
The community agreed to have all our sustainability elements of our Safe Village Program – Nodal Teacher, Gram Mitra, Rakshak and Community Leadership to ensure that the village is safe.
Reflecting on the Safe Village Program in Chhatisgarh, each Safe Village Program is a passionate exchange of knowledge that creates a lifeline of awareness for many people and a towards the path for a safe society.