DIRECTOR: URMI BASU
Jhinuk, in Bengali, means “a shell that nurtures a pearl”. The Jhinuk Play-School is a holistic preschool for the young children of women who work in Kalighat, the oldest red light district in Kolkata – women who were trafficked in from Bangladesh, Nepal, and other parts of India. These young children are truly little pearls.
Prior to Jhinuk, preschool children, too young to attend school, accompanied their mothers as they serviced clients. They were often placed under the bed in the minuscule rooms. It was a very unhealthy environment, and Jhinuk has become a tremendous blessing for these young children.
The school follows the Montessori system of teaching, and learning is a pleasure for these children. Jhinuk also cares for their health and nutritional needs. Health care involves regular checkups and vaccinations, and the children receive nutritious snacks and lunch each day. Perhaps most important of all, Jhinuk provides a stable environment filled with love that nurtures and protects these young children.
Jhinuk is run under the aegis of New Light, whose Executive Director is Urmi Basu. Urmi, a trained sociologist, credits her parents with teaching her to cultivate courage and to be a compassionate agent of change. Urmi never hesitates to help those in need, even at the cost of her own safety. “The work I do brings me danger every day, but that is not important,” she says. “What matters is not how much we do, but that we at least can do something.” She adds, “I would like to be remembered as someone who cared for her fellow beings and always fought for justice.”