StoriesFromMauHeader was honored to partner with Khusi Hona and a partner organization, Guria, in the building of a vocational facility that provides opportunity to children otherwise destined to serve in the sex trade of India. Over the next few months, we encourage you to follow Matthew’s journey as he visits the site where the facility is being built, and your impact is coming into fruition. This post is a part on an ongoing series called Stories From Mau.

This journey actually began long before my time in India. As director and founder of Khusi Hona I live a life split between the West and East. Khusi Hona is a U.S based 501 C3 non-profit that serves to support and protect the lives of orphaned and abandoned children in South Asia, specifically India and Nepal through fundraising activities and education.

So I arrived in Varanasi, our starting point to get to Mau, a day late due a cancelled flight. The reason for the cancellation was political unrest caused by the heated political elections that were centered in Varanasi. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and jumped into the jeep with Ajeet to go to Mau. The city was electric and the temperature at midday was reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which matched the environment we were slowly traveling through. The area is already one of the most populous regions on the planet and it seemed to have doubled in population. Driving through protests, rallies and traffic jams, it took us about an hour to get on the highway, which should have taken minutes. Following the Ganges towards Mau, the trip route was about 75 miles away, but with roads in poor condition it was estimated to take over 3 hours to get there. The road was sometimes paved, sometimes with stone bricks, sometimes just a series of potholes littered with people, rickshaws, cows and portable tea stalls. The surrounding lush farmlands were as far as the eye could see, dotted with small villages and brick furnaces…hard to believe that this breadbasket is home to so many people and families stuck below poverty, often starving.

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We finally reached the red light district of Mau. I was told to keep a low profile as we approached our destination and definitely not to bring out my camera, as we were a threat to the very existence of the pimps and madams of the community. Quickly shuffling through small unsanitary alleys with heavily painted women hanging out the doors and windows of the small homes. We reached the middle, right where the center is being constructed. Even though it was unfinished and still a construction site, it was amazing to see this project that had just a couple months prior been a dream, a vision, an idea.

The center, once complete, will truly be a light in a dark place. The vocational training center will serve as a place in the community where both rescued women and children of the sex workers can come to receive non-formal education in computer training, sewing/fashion design and beauty school. It will also serve as a community center with access to resources like counseling and support groups. A similar model in Varanasi, India just 75 miles from Mau has helped to create the first childfree red light district in India.

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It’s pretty hard to imagine that booking your flight and hotel, renting a car, shopping for books, applying for a mortgage, buying furniture and household items, sending gifts, searching for apartments, picking out a cell phone plan, ordering web hosting and office supplies or even subscribing to magazines and newspapers would ultimately transpire into something so powerful.

Please click here to download the app and to be a part of the #FeelHappy movement! In the coming months, we look forward to sharing more on this project as it’s being developed, along with the lives that are being impacted. I want to send a big thank you to for giving us this opportunity.