Keertika is a shelter home for 18 destitute girls,with a focus on those who have been trafficked. Traffickers contact women and children through middlemen with the promise of employment in the cities, such as domestic and factory work. Girls may end up forced to work in dance bars and brothels while domestic workers may be exposed to abuse behind closed doors. Others may find themselves working in basic conditions in factories, exposed to dangerous equipment or chemicals, or may be coerced into prostitution, begging or stealing. They are controlled by criminal gangs who profit from their activities. Marriage is another pretext for trafficking, and girls from large families are highly vulnerable. Poor parents may welcome the change for their daughters to wed without a dowry, but may be sold on by agents for work in the sex trade in which they maybe subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. After trafficking, girls who are rescued are not generally accepted back by their families or communities so their lives can become even more painful. Considering the needs of these young girls, the Keertika Protection Home was established with the objective of providing holisitc support to rescued and destitute girls so that they can live a life of dignity and become accepted by the community.
The aim of the project is to provide shelter, food, medical care, education, psychological and counselling support and legal assistance to girls in distress with a focus on victims of trafficking and other forms of violence including rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
Annual activities include educational support to the girls to enable them to keep up with their school work and revision, nutritional support for physical development, psychological support through individual and group counselling sessions, and medical support when required. Taking girls on weekly outings, celebrating birthdays, Independence Day, netaji's birthday etc. Extracurricular activities include dance, drawing, yoga and English lessons with parents/guardians' meetings to update them on all aspects of their children's development.
In 2012 VITAL took the girls to lunch at McDonalds (requested by the girls!) then to the movies at the mall. Taking the escalator for granted, the girls did not tell us they had never seen one before and were too frightened to hop on so we brought them to the lift. When the lift went down to the garage first before going up, the girls were wondering what had happened as they had also never been in a lift before. It was interesting to see they were not frightened but confident they were in safe hands.
In 2013 VITAL took the girls to the WaterPark for the day. Many were eager to learn to swim. VITAL cooked an Italian pasta and garlic bread for the girls along with chocolate cake!