BANGALORE: Since cut throat competition is keeping well known sandalwood actress from signing any new projects, Pooja Gandhi is all set for a new role. Thinking on positive lines, the actress has joined hands with a NGO, working for the uplift and rehabilitation of sex workers and HIV positive persons. This is despite her busy schedule as a JD-S party worker.
Pooja Gandhi has outdone herself in real life compared to her reel life. The actress has been interacting with a few victims and taking them out and spending almost half a day with them. An accidental encounter with City Express at the coffee shop turned out to be a revelation indeed. Showing a humane attitude, Pooja has been helping and lifting the spirits of the sex workers who are viewed by the society as culprits rather than the victims of circumstances.
For the past two years, the actress has been fulfilling this new role with all zeal and enthusiasm. As a result, more than 150 sex workers have been properly rehabilitated and many more are under going training in various soft skills, like craft making, BPO, security guards at an undisclosed location in the city. The actress introduced one of the sex workers who shared her story of victimisation with City Express.
Lakshmi Devi (name changed) said, “We are portrayed as bad omen by the society but Pooja Gandhi and her Foundation has helped us in overcoming such negative thoughts.
Lakshmi now working in a garment factory developed symptoms of TB and borrowed 500 rupees from her colleague as well as owner for her treatment. Narrating the saga of falling into the prostitution trap, she added, “I drank a glass of alcohol laced with drugs on that fateful day given by my colleague, and the next thing I remember I woke up at a lodge in Mangalore. I was tortured, I was half naked and a man there told me that he had purchased me for five thousand rupees. He told me to cooperate and went on keeping butts of lighted cigarette on my breast and thighs. I somehow escaped and came to Bangalore six months later. But alas! My mother and elder brother chased me away from home, calling me a prostitute.
Many may not even think of taking time off to be with a ‘victim’ of circumstances and people who are forced into exploitation but actress Pooja Gandhi has set a precedent for others to emulate. “I completely blame the society for the status of these poor victims and imagine the parent’s think that once they get their daughter’s married off, their responsibility is over. The doors are perpetually shut for her and many girls are victimised and tortured by both the husband and in-laws.”
These people need lot of support and I have been associated with a couple of NGOs in the city and we aim to give them a new life and also provide training in a few skills ranging from front office, security, BPO to office administration so that these victims once again join the mainstream of the society. I am only taking this initiative in association with other like minded NGOs, however, we need the cooperation of everyone in the society if we have to rehabilitate them,” said Pooja Gandhi.
Pooja’s reply to donning this new role was, “Our family has been doing charitable work through the Gandhi Charitable Trust which was initiated by my father and we believe in ‘do good and don’t tell policy’. My family is well off and I don’t crave for cheap publicity, I am doing this because I have some social commitment.”