When a young Gauri Sawant was asked by peers what she wanted to be when she grew up, she instantaneously responded, “Mi Aai Honar (I am going to be a mother).” The reactions to her response were of jest, laughter, mockery and an assertive affirmation that boys cannot be mothers. You see, Gauri was born Ganesh, a male child in a conservative family.
Gauri was perplexed. She realised that there not only was there something wrong with that statement but also something very different about her. She was born a male but wanted to be a woman and soon she underwent sex reassignment surgery with the help of the Humsafar Trust. Battling ostracism and discrimination, Gauri adopted the daughter of a sex worker, making sure that the child had equal opportunities and choices in life. She finally became what she always wanted to be – a mother.
You may recognise her from a recent advertisement, a Vicks campaign that brought her journey into the limelight in a very loving way. As a transgender rights activist, she has endlessly fought for equality but she wanted to do something more for the community. The relationship that she has with her daughter Gayatri, she wanted other transgenders and children to have the opportunity to have that same kind of intimate relationship of love and care, of motherhood and having a family.
Fighting against all odds, the 37-year-old is now raising funds to build a home on her own patch of land, aptly called Nani Ka Ghar (Grandmother’s home). This will be a safe haven for the children of sex workers and transgender individuals, giving them both a chance to lead a mutually beneficial and dignified life.
In a very touching video, Gauri explains that the idea of the home came to her one day when she saw a man unzipping his pants in front of an infant lying down next to her mother in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s largest red light area. Nani Ka Ghar would be situated far away from here, on the outskirts of Mumbai in Palghar and would provide everything from education, food, healthcare and a warm upbringing under one roof. While the construction has begun, more funds are needed to allow the four walls to turn into a full-fledged home that would take care of 50-60 children.
Feature image courtesy of Vicks India.
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