Benefit hopes to help rescue kids from brothel

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:19 p.m.

Friday night, the Gainesville community will join 97 cities around the globe to celebrate the 140th birthday of Mahatma Ghandi and the legacy of peace and independence he left on Earth.


If you go

What: Screening of "Born Into Brothels" to benefit Kids With Camera's Hope House
Where: Randy Batista Photography Gallery on 21 S.E. 2nd Place
When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Friday
Cost: $5 students, $10 general admission

The effort is also to contribute to a new legacy of hope in Calcutta, India.

Each city will be screening the Academy Award-winning documentary "Born Into Brothels", a film by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski that portrays the lives of several children of prostitutes and their ability to use photography as a way to see the world with new eyes.

The film is intended to bring worldwide awareness to the sex trade in Calcutta, as well asto raise funds to build Hope House, which will provide a safe haven and school for 100 girls from Calcutta's red light district.

Sarah Fitzpatrick, co-director of Friday night's screening, is a longtime friend of Ross Kauffman, which gave her added purpose to promote the Hope House.

"The film has reached so many people, but this is a way to continue the special efforts that the filmmakers started," Fitzpatrick said.

Gainesville's celebration will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Randy Batista Photography Gallery, 21 S.E. 2nd Place. The film will be screened outdoors and entry fee is on a sliding scale; $5 for students and $10 general admission, although guests are encouraged to donate as generously as possible. There will be a raffle with gift certificates to restaurants like Ti Amo, Midlred's and New Deal Cafe and signed copies of "Born Into Brothels" books, prints and posters.

The event will also feature short films by Rhadika Agarwala, a Calcutta native and MFA candidate in the University of Florida's Drawing and Painting Program, and designs by Garima Thakur, a New Delhi native and graphic design graduate student.

Thakur said Calcutta is a beautiful city, but the poverty of the red light district forces children into a cycle of labor. Thus many opportunities are lost. She sees the Hope House as a small step toward a paradigm shift in Calcutta.

"It's an important cause because it will treat every individual as an opportunity," Thakur said. "These girls will know there is something better for them than the brothel."

Currently, Kids With Cameras, an organization started by Zana Briski to bring education and the arts to children in Calcutta, has raised $410,000 toward the $1.2 million goal to build Hope House.

Kids With Cameras hopes to break ground on the facility late this year or in early 2010, but until then, the grass roots effort continues.

"Ghandi's birthday is a great day, because we can look back on how he inspired the world," Thakur said. "And we are in Gainesville, trying to create a better life for children thousands and thousands of miles away."

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