Mumbai: Air ticket stands between girl from Kamathipura and her dreams

This 20-year-old from the city’s red-light district was accepted to a prestigious study-abroad course, but might not be able to go unless she raises the funds for an international air ticket

For two girls born in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red-light district, it was a dream come true when they were told they had been accepted to one of the world’s most prestigious study-abroad programmes, Semester at Sea (SAS). But a lack of funds could now sour this dream for one of them, as she does not have the money to buy an air ticket to the US, where the course is scheduled to begin in just over a week.

Kavita and Shweta are half-sisters and best friends, and are thrilled at the opportunity to attend the course together
Kavita and Shweta are half-sisters and best friends, and are thrilled at the opportunity to attend the course together 

mid-day had reported earlier that the two, Kavita Hosmani and Shweta Katti, are the only Indians to be selected for the semester that will take place on a ship that will take them to 15 cities across 12 countries in 112 days (‘Two girls from red-light area in Mumbai to sail around the world’, mid-day, October 23).

As half sisters and best friends, the duo are inseparable, and were thrilled that they would be attending the six-month course together. However, while Shweta got a full scholarship for the programme, Kavita received partial funding, and has to arrange for the rest of the money on her own. But with just days to go before the course starts on January 7, Kavita is stuck, without enough money for a ticket to the US.

“Shweta received a scholarship with full board and tuition. Kavita received $17,000 and we had to raise the remaining $8,000. Plus there are additional costs such as visas, passports, etc,” said Robin Chaurasia, one of the founders of Kranti, an NGO that works to uplift girls from red-light areas. She added that Kavita now needs another $1,400, so she can fly to the US by January 5 and begin her semester.

Road blocks
Kavita had already faced and cleared several hurdles in her efforts to prepare for the trip. When she had applied for a passport, the police had refused to verify her address and she had shifted to another house within Kamathipura. Because of this, her application was closed twice, resulting in a month’s delay.

“We applied again about 10 days ago, and got the passport with the help of the Regional Passport Office, and then started applying for visas. So now, all we need is a plane ticket from Mumbai to San Diego, to make this amazing experience happen,” added Chaurasia. Despite the challenges she has faced, and the uncertainty over whether she will finally be able to fly to San Diego, Kavita’s outlook is positive.

“There were so many times I thought it would never work out. I couldn’t get the passport at first, and the police in the red-light area refused to help. But, I never imagined it would all come together. I’m so thankful for everyone’s help. It is my dream to sail around the world and study with my sister,” she said.

Travelling school
Semester at Sea (SAS) is a six-month educational programme that is run on cruise ships, where students attend classes on a variety of subjects while the ship is at sea. The ship tours across several countries, giving students an opportunity to learn about those places and explore them as well.

Want to help?
Contact Robin Chaurasia from Kranti NGO on 97573 53449

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