From the red-light areas of Mumbai to a summer programme in Minnesota, 16-year-old Pinky Sheikh is ready for a giant leap.
But there’s a huge wall ahead —the passport office—which is not ready to issue her one without an identity proof. And that’s what this child, daughter of a sex worker in Kolkata, whose father is dead, is in no position to provide.
“How can we produce identification for a girl who doesn’t have a father and grew up in a red-light area?” said Robin Chaurasiya, founder of Kranti -- a non-profit group working with girls in red-light areas.
Pinky, who grew up in the red-light areas of Mumbai and Kolkata, had developed a love for music and dance. And the “Songs of Hope”, a 6-week camp for young people from around the world, could be her ticket to a new life.
“Pinky submitted a thoughtful application and we were impressed with her answers,” said Jeanne Junge, artistic director of the programme, in an email.
Pinky has only four days to get a passport -- the programme begins on June 17.
Passport officials said they would look into the matter. “I have not seen her papers but we can certainly help,” said VK Choubey, regional passport officer, Mumbai. “I had been looking forward to this, I hope it happens,” said Pinky.