Banaras Hindu University Hospital cancer treatment for Prabhu

My friend, Prabhu, got sick a few days ago. He was in extreme pain from a stomachache. He was taken to the BHU (Benares Hindu University) emergency ward immediately. Doctors checked him and said that he had some serious problem. Prabhu wanted to be admitted to the hospital but doctors there did not want to admit him. They said that there was no empty bed in the emergency ward. They told Prabhu’s parents to go upstairs and see if there was any bed available in the general ward. Prabhu’s family went to the general ward and found that the general ward also did not have any empty bed.

Prabhu was in extreme pain and he was crying but doctors did not want to see him. Finally Prabhu’s family decided to take him to some other hospital. They took him to a hospital called Mata Anandmayi Hospital, Bhadaini but same thing was there also- no bed. Prabhu was still crying and now he almost fainted. They took him again to BHU but the doctors were showing strange behavior. Now they did not want to talk to Prabhu’s family. Prabhu’s father even touched the feet of the doctors requesting them to treat Prabhu but these crazy doctors were telling the same thing again and again that there was no seat available in the hospital.

They asked the doctors to at least start the medication but they did not want to do this either. It seemed like they just did not want to see Prabhu. They again took him to Mata Anandmayi Hospital but again the same thing- this hospital still did not have a seat. They did not want to go to some other hospital because these two hospitals were government hospitals and were cheap. They were more looking for BHU because it was big and it had lots of advanced facilities. They again went to BHU and this time the doctor just threw Prabhu’s papers and told them to get out of hospital and do not come again.

Prabhu’s pain had started in the early morning and it was evening time now but still he could not get any medication. Prabhu’s parents were so angry that they started yelling at the doctors and other employees of the hospital. Finally the doctors called the security guards and asked them to kick Prabhu’s family out of the hospital. Now Prabhu’s family did not know what to do. One of Prabhu’s friends knew the ex-president of the students union of BHU. He thought to call him and ask for help.

They called him and told him everything. The ex-president called the doctor and said that Prabhu was his relative and then this doctor said that Prabhu should have told them before about his relationship. Doctors said that they will arrange a bed for Prabhu. After the call of this president, the doctors arranged a bed for Prabhu. I don’t know where they brought this bed from. I think they already had a bed but they just did not want to admit Prabhu for whatever reason. Well, finally Prabhu was admitted to the hospital at 11 o’clock night time. �

They did all the testing and started medication. Prabhu was getting better now but then doctors said that they would operate on Prabhu. They said it would be better if this operation was done at PGI, Lucknow. Prabhu’s family brought Prabhu to PGI, Lucknow and again they had to face the same situation. PGI doctors also said that they did not have a bed. Prabhu’s brother knew some very famous Baba in Lucknow. He called this Baba and the Baba called to the hospital and after this call they said that they could arrange a bed for Prabhu.

He was admitted to the hospital for a few hours and then doctors came and checked him for a minute, looked at the old reports and said that he had colon cancer. They also said that they will have to operate on him but still they can not guarantee that he will be alive even for next ten days. They asked Prabhu’s family to immediately deposit Rs. 1,25,000 ($2,500). As Prabhu heard that doctors wanted to operate on him and they said said that they did know if Prabhu would be alive after the operation, Prabhu asked his parents to bring him back to Benares. He said that if he has to die then he would prefer dying in Benares.

This news spread in my neighborhood like a fire in the jungle. Everybody was so sad that Prabhu had cancer. We could not believe that he was going to die. Everybody was so sad. Prabhu came to Benares and I wanted to see him but I did not find myself brave enough to see him. There is a very famous cancer research center in Mumbai called TATA Memorial Center. I suggested Prabhu’s family to take him to TATA Memorial. I called my friend Alok in Mumbai and told him about the situation. I asked him to take an appointment with the TATA Memorial to talk about Prabhu.

I emailed him all Prabhu’s medical reports. Alok took the appointment for the same day and talked to the doctors and showed them all the reports, and TATA’s doctors said after looking at those reports nobody could say that the patient had cancer. They said that if the doctors at PGI had said that the patient had cancer after looking at those reports, then they were wrong. Alok called me and gave this beautiful news. I was so happy to hear that Prabhu did not have cancer. Prabhu was admitted at some private hospital now. I immediately went to see Prabhu and gave them this news.

Prabhu and his family, everyone started crying from happiness. Everybody was so happy. Doctors operated on him at that private hospital and now Prabhu is a lot better. He is back home now and feels normal. Doctors have connected a plastic tube to his intestine to discharge stool but doctors say that he will be alright and they will remove this plastic tube within the next six months. �Prabhu is now scared of BHU and never wants to go there again for any reason. Even though it is cheaper for him to get medication at BHU, he just doesn’t want to think about it.

My baby fell down from a chair and broke his head a few days ago. He was bleeding hard. We took him immediately to the BHU emergency ward. BHU has two registration counters. One opens during day time and other one, which is in the emergency ward, opens after the first one closes. The emergency ward registration counter is supposed to close at 8 o’clock. I had reached there around 7.15 and the counter was already closed which means at this time there was no registration going on anywhere in BHU, crazy. The doctor asked me to get a registration paper. I went to the registration counter and found it closed.�

I asked a few security guards sitting there about how to get a registration paper and they told me enter the room from the back-door. I got inside the room from back-door and saw two people counting the money. I asked him to make a registration paper for my baby but he seemed more busy with counting the money. At the same time another person who wanted to register his patient, opened the window and asked for a registration. The person sitting at the counter became angry at him and asked him very loudly how dare he to open the window. The person at the window said that it was emergency case and doctors had asked him to bring the registration paper and since the window was closed, where could he get it if he had not opened the window.

This made the clerk more angry and he hit his hand with the shutter of the window. Now his hand was stuck in the window and this crazy clerk was hitting his hand again and again. That person was in pain for sure. Finally the clerk closed the window and I don’t know what happened with the patient. Maybe they waited for the general registration counter to open or went to some other hospital. Then the clerk looked at me and asked why did I come inside his room. I was already angry after seeing his behavior so I was also speaking very loudly in Benares language, to make him aware that I was local, that doctor had sent me to get a registration paper.�

The clerk told the other person sitting there to make a registration paper for me. I went with the registration paper to the doctor and then the doctor made me write that I was the guardian of the baby, that baby had fallen down from the chair and that I would not go to the police in the future for this case. After this they started looking at my baby and asked me to buy nylon thread for stitching and some other medicines because they did not have anything. It was crazy that the emergency ward of BHU did not have nylon thread. I have heard that BHU employees sell the stuff that they get to use for patients.

I left the baby with my brother at the hospital and went out to get the medicines. After I came back with the thread and other medicines, the doctors asked me to wait because there was no doctor who could do stitching. It was 7.45 now and they asked me to wait for 15 more minutes. I waited for 15 minutes and then I again asked them if the doctor had come and they again told me to wait for few more minutes. My baby was still bleeding and crying but there was no doctor to do stitching in an emergency service center of a big hospital. After an hour few junior doctors (students) came. I asked them to look after the baby and they told me that they could not do it without permission of a senior doctor. They also asked me to wait for a little more time.

I did not know what to do. I was in a hospital but there was no doctor available. Finally after an hour and a half those junior doctors decided to start stitching. My baby’s medication was started after an hour and a half of reaching to the hospital. And this all happened in BHU which is one of the biggest hospitals of Uttar Pradesh. I am also so scared of BHU like Prabhu is and I have decided that I will never ever go back to BHU for any case. I got my baby’s stitches removed at some other hospital.

All the government hospitals are in the same condition- they do not care about the people. Their employees just care about the money. BHU makes a huge amount of money. They host international conferences. People from all over the world come to BHU to do research but the reality is something different. I often hear people talking about the bad services of BHU hospital because they always make the same mistakes again and again. Most of the patients who come to BHU are poor people from out of Varanasi. It is really bad for us because health insurance is still not popular in India and most of the people do not have it. We can not go to any private hospitals because they are so expensive and these government services are awful. After this crazy experience anyone would be compelled to wonder if the hospitals are made to save the life or kill?

HIV, AIDS education pamphlet distribution

An student from University of Montana, USA had contacted me to volunteer for my organization and for housing at my guest house. I also wanted to start something for sex workers in Benares. I asked him if he would like to help me organizing some kind of program for sex workers. He seemed so much interested in my work. Although we could not do anything for sex workers because of his busy schedule in Benares and some of my unexpected work that I had to accomplish but we still distributed pamphlets during Maha Murkh Sammelan (Biggest fool Conference).

This festival is very very Benares thing and I think it happens only in Benares. It is celebrated every year on 1st of April. This year they had more than 3000 people during that conference. But since Winslow and I were the only people to distribute pamphlets, we thought to target maximum of 200-250 people. We went there, sat on the steps of Rajendra Prasad Ghat and started distributing pamphlets. We had targeted 15 to 45 year old people, but our priority was 15-30 year old. People were not interested in taking pamphlets from my hand but they seemed so interested in Winslow.

Winslow finished his pamphlets first and then I gave him most of my pamphlets also and we distributed almost 150 pamphlets. First of all we distributed pamphlets amongst the people who had come to the festival, and later we just wandered along the river and distributed some more pamphlets to young people. On the 2nd of April, Nandlal Master had organized a program which was inauguration of a water cooler, computer room and sewing machines which were donated by some organizations to Nandlal Master’s organization- Lok Samiti. Water cooler was given by Union Bank of India and other stuffs were given by some organization from south India.

Nandlal had tole me that 600-700 people would come to the program so we had planned to distribute some pamphlets there also. We reached there but unfortunately there were not much young people. They were either under 10 year old kids or over 45-50 year old people. So we better decided to not distribute the pamphlets. But Nandlal has asked me to organize some HIV, AIDS education program for his Kishori centers. Kishori center is a school run by Lok Samiti and ASHA for the girls who are over 13 year of age. There are about 10 Kishori centers and each center has about 50-75 girls.

Winslow’s friend, who had lived in Benares for a year about two years ago, knew the principal of Delhi Public School and had asked Winslow to meet him. Winslow told me about it and I also asked him to ask the school if they would let us organize a HIV, AIDS education workshop at their school. Delhi Public School is a English medium school and is fanciest school of Benares or maybe India’s. I have always wanted to work with English medium schools because their kids seems to be on biggest risk of contracting STDs. They have co-education system but there is no sex education in India.

Its a good opportunity for me to get involved with English medium schools and I am looking forward to it. It seems like Sanjeevani Booti will be busy this summer but there is a huge problem for funding and I don’t know how to solve it.

Condom usage demonstration & training to the sex workers

I, Seranna and translator

Seranna and I did something that India had never seen before. On the last day of the conference we did a condom usage demonstration in front of at least 6000-7000 people. We gave training to sex workers about how to keep themselves safe from sexually transmitted diseases and how to make money. After interviewing sex workers we realized that they did not know much about any STDs other than HIV. So I asked Seranna to talk about STDs in her presentation. We knew that she would be performing on the last day of the conference so we thought that it would be good opportunity for us to spread the message to a huge number of people at the same time.

I (look at the mask) and Seranna

I (look at the mask) and Seranna

Seranna was sad to see how poor Indian sex workers are. She said that western sex workers make a lot of money. She charges $300 per hour which is like two-three months salary of an Indian sex worker. She wanted to talk about how sex workers can make more money from their clients. I know that it will long time for Indian sex workers to reach on that standard but I think it was a good thing to at least tell them about it. On the last day of conference there were about 6000-7000 people, most of them were sex workers.

I and Seranna

Seranna and I

Since we made the decision to talk about different things in the Seranna’s presentation on the morning of the presentation day, we could not organize well. We had only a few hours to decide what we would be talking about. We decided to do a play to make the conversation more interesting. I had asked Seranna to bring some sex toys and she had brought three dildos and Seranna wanted to use them for the presentation. I was concerned about using sex toys in front of that huge number of people because sex toys are illegal in India.

I and Seranna on the stage

I asked Seranna to ask the organizer of the conference about using sex toys and the organizer said- go for it. But I was still concerned about showing them to people. So I also went to the organizer and talked to him about it and again his answer was same. Seranna and I talked to each other about what we will talk about and decided that this presentation should not be a boring conversation kind of thing. We decided to put some comedy in it, as Seranna always does. Now it was our turn to do the presentation but the problem was that audience was Bengali so we needed someone to translate our words from English to Bengali.

Seranna and I

Seranna and I

We asked the organizer about it and they provided us a Bengali-English translator. I played the role of a doggy customer who did not want to pay upfront and did not want to use condoms and Seranna played the role of a very smart sex worker. I was wearing a mask which was symbol of a doggy customer. This mask was in shape of a penis and balls. We started the presentation with Seranna asking for money up front but I did not want to pay the money first. I asked her to provide the services first but she always wanted money first. So we argued over this matter. I always say that I would pay money after services and Seranna would always say that she was selling her skills so she wanted money upfrontand finally Seranna refused to provide services.

Seranna giving message

Seranna giving message

Then I agree on giving the money first. By this we wanted to tell other sex workers to always ask for money upfront because in some cases the clients do not pay money after taking the services. After this Seranna shows the dildo and it brought dead silence into the audience.I felt really awkward doing it, but I hoped that it was useful for everyone at the conference.I wore that dildo and Seranna sat on her knee to milked it. She wanted to tell other sex workers to do the same with every client before providing services so that they can be sure if the penis is disease free.

Asking me if I felt good

Asking me if I felt good

After this she tells me to use the condoms but again I played the role of a doggy customer and I did not want to use one. I told her that I was married and she also looked safe and that is why I did not want to use condoms. But Seranna says that diseases are not written on the face. Then we talk about HIV/AIDS and other STDs and finally I agree to use the condoms. Then Seranna tells me to lay down on my belly on the bench and gave message and did a boob slide. By this we wanted to educate sex workers about how they can pass more time with their clients and how they can make them happy so that they make more money, and get even a tip.

Picking the condoms up

Picking the condoms up

After this Seranna puts the condom over the dildo by her mouth. Actually this dildo was so big that she had to try twice to put the condom over it. Here Seranna mixed some comedy by saying that this boy is big.Before this sentence the whole audience was silent but after hearing this everybody started laughing and clapping. I am sure they were also enjoying it. After putting the condom over dildo she gives a blow job. We had few toys of the STDs viruses. Seranna would act like giving blow job and then show the different toys and tell about how they spread and what they can do. I liked the way she explained about all different diseases very much.

STDs virus toys

STDs virus toys

And then she acted like we were having sex and she would ask me if I was enjoying it. This was also one very important part of this training to tell sex workers to keep talking to their clients about how they feel while having sex. This way the men become more erected and cum early (I believe in the idea of working smart, not hard). So good for sex workers. By this time our time and bench’s life was finished. It broke and we fell down on the ground and this dead silence amongst the audience turned into loud noise of laughing and clapping. I loved it.

Going to put condoms over the didlo

Going to put condoms over the dildo

At last I give her a tip for her awesome services. I believe that this kind of sex services can change the lives of Indian sex workers. I am sure that Indian men would love to have that kind of services but I don’t understand why our sex workers do not do such things. I hope this presentation helps them to make more money and change their lives. Right after this presentation we were covered by the media, social workers , sex workers and other general people. All these people wanted to talk to us. They wanted to interview us. It was so fun doing it. Maybe we will also do the same thing in the US in the coming June.

Interview with sex workers

We interviewed a few sex workers in Kolkata for the documentary and fortunately my job was to do interpretation between sex workers and Seranna so I talked to them personally. I noticed one thing was that most of the sex workers we talked to came in this profession after some kind of bad thing happened with them at some point of their lives. I talked to this one sex worker who was basically from Faizabad but now lives in Kolkata, who said that she had done a love marriage with a Muslim guy, who was not accepted by her family, so she had to leave her home and come to Kolkata.

After spending a few months in Kolkata she discovered that her husband was a drug user. She told him several times to quit drugs and get a job but he never wanted to do it. Finally she had a child but she did not have any money because her husband did not have a job and she could not ask her family to help her because she had already gone against her family by marrying a Muslim guy. Then she decided to leave the home and went to a brothel and became a sex worker.

She is happy now because she has a better life than her husband gave her. She says that now she is not dependent on anyone and is free to do whatever she wants and now she has developed good relations with her family as well. There was some problem in the beginning when her family came to know she had became a sex worker but now everything is Okay. Actually this sex worker was a program co-ordinator of Durbar (the sex worker’s organization) so she would often be on the news and when her neighbors back at her hometown saw her on TV talking about sex work, they started asking her parents about it.

Her parents also asked her to leave this profession but she had decided that she would never ever leave her job. She is very happy to be a sex worker and she dreams to be a sex worker again in her next life. When we asked about what would she like her child to do then she said that she want her child to go to school and get some job. But there is a big problem for sex workers getting their children admitted in the schools. Actually they do not have any residential proof because most of the sex workers in India are brought from either Nepal or Bangladesh.

Since they come from some other country, or even if they are from India, they do not have any residential proof because they usually change their residence quiet often or they work under some brothel owner who acts as a dictator. Usually they are not allowed to go out of the brothel area. Sometimes they go out to work at hotels but not everyone can go. Brothel owners send only those sex workers to hotels or somewhere else of the brothel who have spent few years at the brothels. Because if they have spent some time in this profession then they do not want to run away, or sometimes brothel owners send someone else with the sex workers to hotels.

One other big problem of the sex workers is the money that they make from their profession. Sex work in India is very cheap and sex workers do not have any social idnentity or security. Usually they charge Rs. 50-100 per client because sex work in India is very quick. Clients come, have sex for 5-10 minutes and then they leave. Sometimes they do not even see the face of the person they are having sex with. Sex workers want to hide their identity and clients also want to do the same thing. So this work is very hidden.

Sometimes sex workers work for an hour with one client and this is only time when they make something like Rs. 500 or so. But this doesnt happen often. Usually they have some regular client who is very friendly to them and want to spend more time, sometimes they do overnight booking as well but only with some speical clients. After work they are supposed to give half of their income to the brothel owner so they make something like Rs. 50 per clients. Since this money is nothing, they are seeing more than ten clients per day which is horrible. It makes them sick.

Because of this residential proof problem they can not open a bank account or go to the places where they ask for the identity proof. In India residential proof documents are often checked after the Mumbai bomb blast so these sex workers have really hard time nowadays. And if they are caught then the police send them to jail. Each and every sex worker talked about the Police. They said that the police raid the brothels sometimes and beat them, put them in jail, abuse them but the same police come the next day to have sex with them.

They said that the brothel owner gives some money to the local police station every month so that they do not raid the brothels but police still do it whenever there is some political pressure on them or when they want to make some money. A few sex workers said that once the police took them to the jail and had sex with them inside the jail. It was shocking to hear that how these law protectors break the laws. They said that sometimes the police call the children of the sex workers and have sex with them. It was disaster. I could not believe that anyone could do this.

We asked sex workers if they give blow job or doing message or some other services to their clients and most of them said straight away that they do not give blow job or do message. There was only woman who said that she gives blow job sometimes but only to some special clients. Blow job is something that nobody wants to talk abuot in India. I have also heard that Indian sex workers do not give blow job which sounds strange. I think they can make more money by doing this. I dont know for whatever reason people do not even talk about it. They say that it is English style of sex but I think it is very very old Indian style. Maybe we taught to British and they spread it all over the world.

One of the sex workers told me this story about when Durbar had just started working and wanted to give them basic writing and reading knowledge. Durbar wanted to have a space to start their classes so they asked people living around the brothels to rent them a room. They waited for two months, talked to almost everyone in that neighborhood to rent them a room but nobody did it. A lot of them came to Durbar asking why they wanted to educate sex workers. They said that if the sex workers are educated then they will not respect other people and they will start making their own decisions. Finally Durbar had to start these classes at their own office which was like one kilometers away from the brothels.

One other very interesting thing was that most of the sex workers have a regular customer who is something special for them. This customer is not only a customer for them, they are like their life partners. They support the kids of the sex workers. It is very hard for sex workers to get their children admitted in the school because they are supposed to write the name of the father of the child and bring them to school but it is impossible for them. So in this case sometimes this special customer helps and give his name as the father of the child.

We asked them questions regarding sexually transmitted diseases as well and to be honest nobody knew about anything except HIV. They did know what lube was. They said that even though they use condoms but sometimes they break off. When we asked them reason behind it all of them said that it was only because of low quality condoms but I think lube also helps a lot. I had also never ever seen lube before Lane showed me. I don’t know why it is not available in our market. They really need training and education but unfortunately government is not doing anything for them.

All of the sex workers said that sex work should be decriminalized which I also believe in. I think that sex work is the second oldest profession of the world, or maybe the first. I think either agriculture or sex work is the oldest profession and it should be legalized and decriminalized. They are also part of our society and they should also be respected in the society like other people. I think it will take a really long time for sex work to be legal in India because our politics is at its worse level now. If one part would do something for them then other parties would start pulling leg of the first party. But this organization is doing nice work and I hope to see change.

Comparing Countries Compassion

Laxmi and Seranna

Laxmi (a transgender) and Seranna

Seranna started her documentary calledComparingCountries CompassioninKolkata which is about sex work and sex workers in India. It is Seranna’s project which she will be doing in different countries but she wanted to start it from India. She has chosen me to help her organizing interviews and she wants to interview me also regarding my work with Sanjeevani Booti. She has hired camera crew from Delhi who don’t seem professional, especially the cameraman. He is crazy. He always fights with other crew members. Actually they all fight with each other in front of interviewee. Sometimes they start asking questions to the interviewee. Seranna was also upset sometimes but we did nothave any hope. This production company is big and is run by a award winning person for his direction but unfortunately he was not with us.

This documentary is about comparing laws in different countries regarding sex workers. I really liked this project and she has given me a very challenging job of giving ideas of direction and doing translation. I translated few interviews of sex workers. We interviewed a few sex workers, social activists, professors of university of Kolkata, transgender people, children of sex workers… it was awesome. We did a condom usage demonstration also and trained sex workers about how to keep themselves safe and how to make more money from their clients. This documentary will be a huge success for sure. I feel fortunate to be part of it.

Sex worker’s conference

Today it was the inauguration of the conference. We reached there around 9 o’clock. The conference inauguration was heldin a very bighall.I think there were almost a thousand people present there and most of them were sex workers from different parts of India and abroad. I had never seenthat big number of sexworkers at one place. There were lots of Hijras as well.There werepeople from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Australia, Hong Kong, US and UK. Butmost of them were from India and Bangladesh.Mayer ofKolkata city, some religious leader and a lot ofother VIPs were also there as chief guest.

I metDr. Jana who is member of the advisory board to Government of India for HIV and AIDS programs in India. He was founder of the Sonaganchi project whichhas been really a huge success and now hasbecome a model for the whole world. They have separated the programs in two session each day, 3 hours each session.The second session wasthe panel discussion aboutsex workers are entertainmentworkers. Different people put their thoughts but to be honest I did not understand most part of it because the whole conversation was in Bengali. But I understood about half of it, it was Okay.

It was very interesting to see how sex workers were putting their views and sharing their experience. Most of them were talking about the problems they face created by Police and discrimination in the society. A lot of them were saying that their children can not get admission in the schools only because they are children of the sex workers. They can not open a bank account or even buy a insurance because they don’t have anyresidential proof.It means they might not be able to use Internet either because now it is necessaryfor everyone to show their identity cardat the cybercafe.

During the conference few people from media came who wanted to interview Seranna about the documentary we are making. She was interviewed first and then they interviewed me also. They wanted to talkme aboutSanjeevani Booti. After my interview they talkedto other foreigners, Hijras and sex workers. I also want to inteviewfew sex workers cause it seemssomething different thanwhat I have already known about them. There are a lot of things that I need to know and this is a good opportunity forme. I will try to interview them tomorrow.

Second day with Seranna

I met Seranna today at her hotel and talked her about two hours. We talked about how the shooting went last day. She said that they were supposed to shoot the sex workers at G.B. Road but could not because the sex workers and brothel owner did not allow her. She just talked them, actually she did not understand much about what they were talking about because the shooting crew was not good with the translation work. They talked to the sex workers but most of the time they did not transalte. She saidit was okay and she was happy withwhat she was getting.

Seranna said that the brothel owner charged her Rs. 20,000 ($450) just to get them in and organize aten minutes dance show by sex workers.They did not let her shoot this dance part or anything inside the brothels.She was still happy withwhatever happened.I am sure she is very cool and happygirl:). Isee this as a mistake of crew members. When I had worked forCBC and MTV Italy, we did a research first so this way everything was very well organized.But with this documentary nothing isorganized. I did not like it at all.

Seranna said that after spending few minutes at brothel,the Police came asking forbribe to Seranna. I don’t knowwhat reason they wanted bribe for, or maybe becauseSeranna did not have a legal permission to make a documentarywhich isgoing to be commercialized.I am sure crew members did not tell her about it either.The cameraman is very famous guy but I don’t know how these people can make this big mistakes. Seranna said that everything went well with her and she was so happy with the progress.

I had asked Seranna to bring some sex toys and she has brought a lot of didlo andfake pussy. Few of them will be give tome to use formy NGO. I had never seenit in front so I was exited to see them. She showed me by wearing this fake pussy. It was so funny. She said that she uses thosetoys to educate people about safe sex practices. I believe that these kind of things get attention and then you can make people hear whatyou want them to.I liked the toys a lot.

Seranna said that the crew members do not want me to come to the shooting for whatever reasons but Seranna wanted me to go the shooting today but I said no. Seranna is going to interview two high class sex workers,a politician and going to a conference organized by Delhi university about sex work in India. We will fly to Kolkata tomorrow to attend the conference. I am excited for it.

First day of work with Seranna

Finally I arrived Delhi this morning and went straight to Chandan’s place and then to see Chottala. Seranna had asked me to meet her at 4 o’clock so I could not spend much time with Chottala. I was not happy leaving him. I was supposed to meet Seranna at G.B. Road, brothel no. 71. Chandan drove me there. We reached there and I said Chandan to leave started looking for the brothel no. 71. G.B.Road is near the Ajmeri gate side of New Delhi railway station and is the biggest market of generator parts of Asia. Brothels and this biggest market of Asia was on the same road.

All the shops were at ground floor and brothels were at first floor. I sent a message to Seranna informing her about I had reached there but she did not reply me. I thought that maybe she was busy with shooting. I thought it would be good experience just to walk around so I did not stay near the no. 71 brothel. All the steps going up side to the brothels had few girls wearing all the makeups, calling to the people. I was also called up by several sex workers. They were all very well dressed but I could easily see that they were not healthy.

A lot of sex workers were at the windows and they were also doing the same thing: calling people upstairs. I went to a tea shop and sat there for an hour. All these sex workers were calling people like:- hey black pants; come upstairs, hey blue shirt, Rs.100 only, hey you look tired come to me… Each and every person walking on that road would look at least one to the windows. Now I had spent more than an hour so I thought to start walking. I noted something very strange that there was no education posters and writing about HIV or other STDs in the whole area. I wandered almost all over the sex working area but saw only two posters teaching about condoms and HIV. This was very sad.

As I stood-up, I saw one guy running. I asked few people they said that he was inside a brothel and he was looted by the sex workers. I had heard of the sex workers at brothels looting their clients but I never believed it. I had asked several people about it who go to brothels and all of them said that they never carry any extra cash or any valuable stuffs with them when they go to brothels because sex workers loot their clients sometimes, specially if they are new. I think it is only because sex workers for the brothel owner and give a big cut of their income to the owner so they never make much money.

After spending few more time now I was stopped by a pimp who wanted to sell me a girl. He just came to me and started walking next to me. He asked me would I like to have a girl and I said no and then he was like I will charge only Rs. 200 and give you a very nice girl, young and beautiful. I told him several times that I did not need a girl but he was kept walking next to me and asking the same question again and again. Finally he left me and a new and the most dangerous pimp appeared: the police. They probably did not want to sell me a girl but maybe, who knows.

They came and asked several questions about my identity. It was okay but I was wondering why did they stop me? I was never stopped before at any place in Delhi. There must be some reason behind it. Maybe they wanted me to ask them for a girl. I saw many many young guys, only 13-14 years old, going to the brothels. They all looked kind of afraid going in but they went. Now after spending more than two and a half hours finally Seranna called me and said that she had left her mobile in her car so she was not the texts I was sending her. She asked me to meet her tomorrow. I am so excited for this meeting.

HIV & AIDS workshop at girls’ school

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Presentation for class 9th

We organized a workshop at Gopi Radha Girls School in Varanasi where Sanjeevani Booti’s social workers and volunteers did a presentation about HIV and AIDS. We had been thinking of it for a long time and it finally became true. We did presentations for the 9th and 11th class girls. We wanted to do it for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th class but school did not permit us to do a presentation for 10th and 12th class girls because their exams are going to start soon. We did the presentation for 11th class on the 11th and for 9th class on the 12th of Feb.

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Sanjeevani Booti's social workers with schools kids

We had planned to send one girl and one boy to each class but again the school did not permit us to send males so I had to send only girls to the school. I have very good girls now who are interested in this issue, but they don’t want to volunteer, they want a paid job. But it’s okay, I know that it is hard to find people who are interested in working for free. But this makes my project tough because I don’t have regular donors and I do not want to be dependent on a few individuals. I need new people who could support my projects financially.

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A social worker giving presentation

We had two foreigners also who helped us to make this event successful. One of them is Claire Abraham from Montreal, Canada, and the other one is Christina Hunter from San Fransisco, USA. Claire had been helping me for the past one month. She provided me lots of information and trained Sanjeevani Booti’s social workers. She was a big help but unfortunately she could only attend the workshop on the 11th. She had to go to Nepal to get her visa extended. Christina joined us only on the second day.

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Sanjeevani booti's social workers with school staffs

A few girls told us to show condoms to them, to talk about sex, and to talk about sexually transmitted diseases but we could not show them condoms because I was concerned about the school administration’s reaction. The girls want us to organize a big workshop for them where they can get deep knowledge over the subject. But I don’t know when I will be able to organize it because this is an expensive process. I am in touch with a few doctors and social workers from other organizations to make the coming event successful.

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class 9th

I thought it would be great for the kids to hear about HIV from the people living with HIV. There is a network of HIV positive people in Varanasi and I think I can bring some of them to the event. Everything was great but Iam concerned about the future. I think I need grant proposals but I don’t know how to write them. Claire had promised to teach this to me and I am looking forward to it. She is supposed to be back within next few days.

25 new HIV patients everyday

I went to the NACO (National AIDS control Organization) center at BHU with Claire today to get some data about HIV patients in Varanasi for our upcoming workshop at schools. First of all the counselor did not agree to give us any data, and told us to contact the head of the department first and then get permission. I had told her that I was from an NGO but still she did not want to give us any data. We went to the head of department’s room but could not meet him as he was busy with someone else.

We waited for two hours at the counselor’s room. We saw many people coming to get tested. I met a girl who was HIV positive and now volunteers for the NACO center. After spending a few minutes the counselor became friends with Claire and told us everything we were looking for. I am sure she did it only because a white skinned person was there. She said that NACO has a testing center in a lot of different districts of Uttar Pradesh but the BHU one is the only one in all of Poorvanchal where they have ELISA testing facility.

Poorvanchal is a county of Uttar Pradesh which contains seventeen districts. I was shocked to hear that all the people who want to get tested for HIV enentually come to Varanasi center. They can get tested in their districts as well but those reports are not considered as the final report. The ELISA test is the most reliable test and is available in Poorvanchal only at BHU center. She said that the number of HIV patients has increased rapidly within the past few years. When she joined the job nine years ago they had only five-six hundred people every month who wanted to get tested but now this number is between one hundred and fifty and two hundred.

She said that they had hardly fifty to hundred positive results every month a few years ago but now they have at least twenty five positive results everyday. This number was huge and I could not believe it. The interesting thing was that they have only people who are sent by some doctor, think about the people who do not know if they have HIV. She also admitted that the number of positive cases will increase rapidly within the next few years because government’s approach towards this issue is insufficient.

She was not happy with her job. She said that her salary was too low. She said that the WHO gives huge amount of money to the Indian government then Indian government gives money to the Uttar Pradesh government and then Uttar Pradesh government gives money to NACO therefore most of the money is eaten by the politicians and other people involved with this project.

There was one thing that I liked most about this work is that now they give free ARVs to every positive patient. They do not give ARVs to every patient, they are given to only those people whose CD4 is below some dangerous level. I asked her about the number but she did not tell me about it.