From a young age, Priti Patkar was drawn to social work, believing that all people deserve compassion, to live with dignity, and that a person’s vulnerability should never be exploited.
While at university, Priti began to visit the red light district and work with one of Mumbai’s most marginalized groups: prostituted women. She learned that most had inherited the trade from their mothers; they grew up in the brothels believing that life in the sex trade was predestined, only further cemented by their caste.
A night shelter changes everything. It was a simple, but unprecedented solution. Priti opened her first childcare center in 1986 in Kamathipura, one of the busiest red light areas in Mumbai. Today, she runs four shelters, offering comprehensive childcare 24 hours a day. Children receive meals, health care, education and a safe place to play. Their mothers have access to medical care and vocational training. Priti’s organization, Prerana, offers alternatives and a chance to break the cycle.