Beauty for Freedom Illuminate – 9/30 Book Launch and Book Signing Event at Kodomo (Boston)

Saturday, September 30th 12-6pm, Kodomo Boston and NYC- based non-profit Beauty for Freedom (BFF) presents “Illuminate”: a book launch and book signing event hosted by Fashion Executive Suwana Perry and Beauty for Freedom Executive Director Monica Watkins in support of survivors of human trafficking and at-risk youth from New Light, Kolkata, a registered public charitable trust inside the red-light district of Kalighat, Kolkata that offers comprehensive community development services.

“ILLUMINATE”, a collection of photographs created by young survivors of trafficking and at-risk youth in Kolkata, India engaged the youth to visualize their community of Kalighat—West Bengal, Kolkata, India (red light district) in an empowered way. During our Beauty for Freedom photography workshop series with the youth, we promoted self-esteem and self-expression and “Illuminate” is a reflection of that empowered exploration.

*100% of the proceeds from the photographs and books will be donated to BFF’s travel abroad arts programming and New Light Kolkata.

October 2016, a team of 9 artists from New York City-based anti-trafficking non-profit, Beauty for Freedom travelled to Kolkata, India to work with over 100 of New Light Kolkata’s young survivors of human trafficking and at-risk youth to cultivate their hopes and dreams through art, using a Beauty for Freedom workshop series as a tool to empower.

Photography workshops taught by Anirudh Agarwal, focused on community portraiture. What the children captured were these very personal moments, the innocence of the people of Kalighat. This was juxtaposed to the visibility of the red-light district’s intergenerational horrors of sex trafficking, violence, and prostitution. “Illuminate” has a transcendent quality that engages the viewer to see beyond the difficult circumstances surrounding life in Kalighat and leaves us all with a lasting impression that love truly exists in this place and that life is not as polarizing as one might think, given the fact that creativity, culture, and pride thrive in Kalighat.

The photography students were welcomed into homes and gained entrance into the daily lives of the people of the community because many of the youth were born and raised in Kalighat before moving into New Light’s CRECHE CUM SHELTER located as a permanent structure above a temple situated deep inside the Kalighat red light district. The shelter offers comprehensive care and support to the children ranging from a few months old to sixteen years.

Beauty for Freedom’s intensive photography program instructed 40 youth ages 9-27 over a 5-day course and yielded over 5000 images. The final collection of images and the “Illuminate” book project launched globally August 2017.