It looks like any other no-frills, hygienic restaurant serving quality south Indian fare. However, what is unique about this moderately spacious hotel in Mysore is the fact that it is run by 12 male and female sex workers and transgenders. The bistro is located near the Mysore Palace and is named Ashodaya, after the organization Ashodaya Samiti which works with male, female and trangender sex workers in the city. Preethi Nagaraj tells the story in DNA:
The hotel was declared open by the Commissioner of Police, Dr S Parashivamurthy in Mysore on Tuesday, which was observed as World AIDS day.
“I am sure I would spread a word about this place when I go home,” adds Angela Corrs from UK who was happily indulging in the very Indian dish-puri and fried dal. She pauses for a moment to answer DNA’s query, “Yes, I know who run this resto and why. This effort sends out a strong signal that if sex workers really want a dignified life, they can have it.”
“This is certainly not the kind of hotel we’d look around, but we want to join these guys’ humble effort for a change for good,” says Robert, another foreign custom enjoying the spice morning food.
Ashodaya Samiti also runs a community kitchen for sex workers where they can have free food, because they often suffer discrimination in other hotels.
The hotel was opened as part of World Bank’s entrepreneurial initiatives with an initial investment of Rs.4.5 lakh. It is now raking in Rs.3000 per day, from which the profit is being used to fund Ashodaya Samiti’s other projects in nearby Mandya.
Ashodaya is a wonderful example of how people compromised by circumstances can take charge of their lives, and can change not only their own lives but the lives of many others around them.
Read the complete article here.
Image Courtesy: DNA