Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dickey Pitches Bombay Teen Challenge

One life at a time. That is how K.K. Devaraj sets his goals each and every day in the Kamathipura of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) since relocating to what is better known as the oldest red light district in India.

After buying a one-way ticket to Mumbai, Devaraj began to reach out to the young generation that populated the maze-like streets of Kamathipura, where the normalcy of bustling streets frequently hides a dark and painful secret. It is one of several microcosms for human trafficking.

"Above the the shops are an array of windows framing the faces of women lost without hope, as they appear and disappear like fading portraits. It is behind these innocuous walls, girls are ‘broken in’ like animals and locked in tiny dark cells for many years." — Bombay Teen Challenge, 2012

People on the front lines of human trafficking.

It has taken more than 20 years, but Devaraj's ministry eventually led to the foundation of the Bombay Teen Challenge, which provides services and shelters for the children and women who were once used for prostitution, homeless children who live on the streets, and orphaned AIDS children. Medical facilities, feeding programs, and an AIDS/HIV clinic are among the many services provided.

The most of ambitious and unique of them is undoubtedly Ashagram (Village of Hope). Ashagram provides battered, abused, and rescued slaves with a new protected environment where they receive education, job training, and life skills to become productive and independent members of society. Not all of them are so fortunate, but they aren't turned away either.

For those who have suffered the deepest psychological or physical traumas, Ashagram provides them a permanent home and, what the Bombay Teen Challenge calls a near-term, a hospice for those women and girls who have been victimized to the point where the abuse will cost them their lives.

The involvement of Mets pitcher RA Dickey in India. 

The stories are almost too painful to consider. But ignoring the problem or plight of these women and children doesn't make it go away. At least that was the conclusion of Mets pitcher RA Dickey. He is on a special mission to merge a lifelong personal goal to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a humanitarian goal to help the Bombay Teen Challenge end human trafficking in Mumbai.

The way he sees it, he climbs up onto a mound every time he pitches for the New York Mets, standing before a crowd of 40,000 fans. This is his rare opportunity to climb a different mound, one that is over 19,000 feet above sea level. And this time, he is climbing for the thousands of women and children who have no voices left to cheer.

"I have two daughters of own and the thought of them being subjected to things that I know happen .... really tears me up inside," Dickey said in his fundraising message. "Join me as I climb to 'set beautiful free.'"

Already, Dickey has raised more than $65,000 offline to meet his goal of raising $250,000 for the Bombay Teen Challenge. Along with that, he has been accepting donations through the Crowdrise fundraising platform. With even $100,000, Bombay Teen Challenge will be able to purchase a new health clinic right in the heart of Kamathipura, where it will have the most profound and positive impact.

One of the reasons the Bombay Teen Challenge has been effective since it was founded in 1990 is because Devaraj and his team of volunteers do something few people do. He doesn't simply wait for the victims of human trafficking to find him (although many do). Part of of the program actively seeks to intervene and rescue people from drug addictions, alcohol, and prostitution.

The Bombay Teen Challenge Is A Liquid Hip Good Will Pick.

At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.

The Bombay Teen Challenge has been making steady progress in Kamathipura for more than 20 years. This effort, led by RA Dickey, could help the organization founded by K.K. Devaraj have a dramatic impact in saving women and children. Supporting the fundraising challenge is easy. Visit the dedicated fundraising page at Crowdrise.

If you prefer, or once RA Dickey's challenge concludes, you can donate direct to the Bombay Teen Challenge by visiting its donation pages. There are two, one for non-residents and one for residents. Donors ought to be aware that the donation form calls for Indian Rupees (INR). While exchange rates vary, the conversion typically ranges between 54-56 IRN per $1 US or 66-68 IRN per 1 EUR (as of this writing).
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