Friday 14 June 2013


I love this story that has recently hit the news. In fact, this week (month, year), I relish in stories like this as I think we need to hear more of them in our news media. Let's hear it for some positivity and hope in a time that's in short supply. Newsweek recently named Shwetta Katti one of the 25 young women under 25 to watch. This is due to the fact that in her short years on this planet, her life’s journey has encompassed more vicissitudes than most, and to date, she is mightily prevailing.

Shwetta grew up in a makeshift room above a brothel in the red light district of Mumbai. She was sexually abused at 12, suffered abuse at the hands of an alcoholic stepfather (whom she always thought was her real father) and lived in poverty with her mother, who throughout her childhood was her only beacon of real hope. On top of that, she later discovered that her best friend who lived next door was really her half sister by her biological father. From all angles, it was not an easy upbringing or one any child should endure. But, her mother, the one stable force in her life, was determined like most, to give her a better life.

Things took a positive turn when Shwetta met a charity worker for an organization called Kranti that works with children in red light districts of India. With the help and support of her mother, Shwetta moved into Kranti and began healing psychologically and mentally through the aid of workers at the charity. From there she began to flourish, throwing herself into her studies, giving speeches to other sex workers and their children and began learning English in hopes of one day attending an American University - an unlikely dream for most children born into the Mumbai red light district. To date, she has applied to colleges and received admission offers from three universities, including Barnard, in the hopes of studying psychology (she also plays guitar; an underachiever she is not).

Do all stories such as this have a happy ending? Of course not. Sadly the world does not always work that way and many children are not able to escape their deplorable conditions (and trust me that is often why I cannot even engage in the news when it comes on TV). But it is important for us as a society to hear about stories such as this where people find a way out of abject conditions through the help of family (let’s hear it for mothers, shall we) and strangers dedicated to sheer altruism, not to mention charities such as Kranti for their dedication to improving the lives of children around the world. Makes you realize we all could be doing a hell of a lot more.

Happy Friday.

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