The Vision of SAATH CHALO is to enable protection of God-given values for the vulnerable, empower community that has influence beyond their imagination, equip those responsible for these values, and enhance opportunities within community to change.
The world is defined by active people and not by the quality of passiveness. If the majority is exploitative or selfish, it is because the others choose to be spectators Edmund Burke once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." We believe that we are change agents called to be the change we want to see. This can become contagious. The power to heal and change is to move from being mere spectators to active participation. Saath Chalo has been birthed with a passion that there is power in coming together. In coming together, the journey of good triumphing over evil begins. In standing together as the voice against evil, we lend ourselves to being transformed and to transform the world around us - creating ripples in the environment - one person at a time. We want to walk together in this journey towards freedom. We are "Saath Chalo"
It is my privilege for me to Introduce Saath Chalo - “Saath Chalo” in Hindi means “Come Along” or “Walk Alongside”. It is a very common phrase used in North India. Everyone needs someone to believe in them and their destiny or dream and walk alongside.
Along the streets of Kolkata near Kali Ghat, a little girl’s eye caught my attention. I was there on work and didn’t realize until I had seen this for myself that this little girl, who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, was on work too. She looked away immediately. As I kept walking I kept turning around to look at what was going on. There were about 6 other little girls too. They were being accosted by men – large, burly, and rough. I kept walking, feeling helpless, unknowing as to what these men who, perhaps were fathers themselves, were doing. I heard that they were expected to service 20 customers during the weekend alone. I felt I had left that little girl down. I’ve replayed this a million times in my head, but I’ve also seen this repeated in real life as I traveled across our country and the world from Egypt, Lebanon, Afghanistan, South Africa and in several cities in India, the same stories are repeated. Girls, women, helpless, hapless crying for restoration of dignity, freedom and hope. A life – that’s a dream.
From the desperation of that helpless moment grew an inspiration for action – to do something about it – I knew that no woman or child should be violated. I also knew I could never counter this alone. Did you know, next only to the arms and drugs industry, trafficking is the most profitable business in the world?
The Kolkata episode was not a beginning but it helped me understand what my purpose in life was – to see that every human being lives the life that they’ve been created to live – well, full of hope and opportunity. The desire to see people live to their potential was tempered from a very young age. I would always be moved deeply when I saw a poor person. I couldn’t do anything then.
Though we live in a free nation, the question remains are we really free? On the other, if freedom is for all, why do we still exploit our women and children? Why are families still living in slavery? Why does bonded labor and exploitation still exist? In a country that boasts of the top 5 richest Indians having half of the nation’s wealth, why is it difficult for us to alleviate poverty?
Saath Chalo seeks to bring those that are asking similar questions and believe that we can end trafficking and bonded labour. The answers pop up as we come together and stand with each other, walking alongside those that have been affected and impacted by these horrific experiences. Saath Chalo is a movement – of students, of youth, of corporates, of business houses, of people like you and me - that will be a voice – a voice for those that are exploited, made vulnerable, oppressed and with no dignity. It will come along and be a bridge to restore hope and dignity, in their walk towards justice and regaining their destiny.
SAATH CHALO consciously develops trustworthy connections with the community where people are vulnerable, partners with grass root NGOs and the government. As we get information of a case that can be defended and rescued, we work with others in the network and collaborate with judicial bodies and law enforcement to bring victims out of the worksite. We also have programs sponsored and carefully put together to help them teach a lifestyle of freedom and living beyond the yoke of slavery. This involves empowering them to shift their mindset from being victim to being a victor through programs that cater to their emotional and psychological needs as well as needs to equip or place them in jobs or trade that is fair.
Our Story so far...
ENABLE - being the voice of the voiceless - by being advocates of the disenfranchised
EMPOWER - livelihood projects
EQUIP - work with partners and build their capacity to up skill
ENHANCE - facilitate housing projects and entitlements