The following experience related by Kerry Hilton, the Founder of Freeset captures perfectly the change that Rachel and CARASA are striving to support going forward:
“A couple of years ago, when we first started looking at why so many girls were being trafficked from Murshidabad, a few of us visited a village. This village wasn’t just a poor village, it was a village we knew had a history of trafficking its daughters. We had the privilege of visiting a number of families – all who were poor. A conversation with Shoma is clearly fixed in my mind. She was 14, and amazingly enough, still in school. As we talked together, her mother present, I began to wonder what life would hold for her. John, who was with me, asked the question we both wanted to know the answer to – “what kind of work would you like to do when you leave school?” Shoma didn’t get the chance to answer, her mother was too quick off the mark – “what is there for her to do, we are poor.” She seemed to be saying; when you are poor there is no opportunity, no way out. As I turned and focused on Shoma, she remained silent, accepting what her mother had said. That would be her fate.
There was another reason why John asked the question. The previous day, he and I had been talking to another girl the same age. She is the daughter of Bashir and Ayesha, who work with Freeset in Murshidabad. Noorie goes to school in Berhampore, works hard and loves life. When the same question was asked, her mother present, Noorie, herself, was quick off the mark “I want to be a doctor, I want to work for the poor who can’t get good healthcare”.
Two girls, two different responses. One of them has a voice and knows what she wants to do. The other, consigned to letting others talk on her behalf and at 14 years old has begun to accept that life won’t amount to much. Murshidabad is full of girls with no voice or choice and therefore no hope. The perfect environment for exploitation and trafficking.”
CARASA is currently negotiating with Freeset for participation in a second project in Murshidabad in West Bengal. This project, initiated by Freeset, will focus on a far better future for many more girls in the village, closely aligned with Rachel’s vision for CARASA.