1 Jun 2011
Two alumni of Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) have joined the ranks of an international luxury five-star hotel and resort as junior chefs after completing the company’s prestigious hotel management program. After undergoing five rounds of rigorous interviews, the young women were two of fourteen students selected nationwide for the three-year program. One of them, Kavita Jain*, has also recently won the Hans Bueschkens World Junior Chefs Challenge hosted by global food science manufacturer Griffith Laboratories at the regional, zonal, and national rounds and has been selected to represent Asia in the semi-final round. Jain hopes to use this career opportunity to relocate her family from Mumbai’s red light area.
Growing up, Jain faced immense pressure to enter Kamathipura’s infamous brothel industry. Fortunately, an AAWC outreach worker identified her in 2001 and encouraged her to enroll in the Udaan program for girls, where she would be able to access a wide range of services, including academic tutoring and career guidance.
Jain recalls, "Before AAWC, I had no motivation or guidance to move forward. I never took my education seriously because I had no idea it was so valuable. When I came to AAWC, I relied on [AAWC Director] Manju Ma’am for any advice. She was more than a mentor to me; she was like another parent."
After Jain passed her 12th standard board exams, AAWC Director Manju Vyas recommended her for a position with the international franchise Domino’s Pizza. Impressed by her work ethic, the quick service restaurant chain immediately interviewed and hired her as a Team Member. While Jain attended the luxury hotel’s rigorous hotel management program, she worked full-time at Domino’s and even earned a promotion to Staff Team Leader. It was also at this time that she won the Hans Bueschkens World Junior Chefs Challenge and was selected to represent Asia in the semi-final competition in Hong Kong.
As she looks towards her future, Jain sees her culinary career at the luxury hotel as the beginning of a lifelong career in the hospitality industry. Attributing her success to the support of her two families – at home and at the AAWC centre – she encourages young girls in the Udaan program to strive for their dreams and remain committed to their education.
Jain expresses great optimism for current AAWC members: "AAWC does so much for the community guiding the women and children to move forward. It has helped me receive an opportunity that changed my life, and I hope it continues to impact following generations of children in the same way."
* Note: Kavita Jain’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
About Apne Aap Women’s Collective
Founded in 1998, Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC) serves the women, girls, and toddlers of the Greater Kamathipura Area, one of the largest and oldest red light areas in Asia. By providing its members with the tools and resources to create a better life, AAWC seeks to empower women who have been trafficked into brothel-based prostitution and to prevent intergenerational trafficking of girls and young children who grow up in the brothels. Since its inception, AAWC has served more than 1,100 women, 550 girls and 250 toddlers. Learn more at www.aawc.in.