Day Five

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


· Empress Park with kids from Santvana

· Red Light District

· Barista

· Santvana Crèche

Purpose: Spend time with the kids from Santvana and the Night Care in the Red Light District. Understand the sex trade by visiting and meeting with those who are deeply involved.

Tomorrow: Santvana Orphanage during the day & flying to Delhi at night


  • Empress Park
  • Eunuch Ministry
  • Evening in Hell’s Den

Quote of the day: “You become what you worship.”

Eye opening is the only way to describe today. I don’t even know how to process it all … and I usually feel like I process things rather quickly, but my mind has not yet grasped what my heart has swallowed. It feels like my heart has just drunk an alcohol that burns all the way down and left me a bit disorientated. The only thing is that the burning and disorientation is lasting longer than any shot I have ever taken. How can feelings of confusion, conviction and joy all coexist at the same time? Bewildered.

Empress Park

Today we met the children from Santvana at Empress Park. They arrived is an extremely plain yellow bus that could have been drawn by Shultz the man who drew Snoopy and Charley Brown. They were all wearing the shirts we made with them the day before during their craft time. I wish you could have seen them waving and completely excited to see us. Dr. Edwards arrived with our team about 15 minutes before the kids arrived. As soon as the kids got off the bus … they walked right past all of us and right to Dr. Edwards who they call Nani (grandma). Then after they got a loving greeting and hug from her they came to greet us. The kids acted as if we were taking them to Disneyland and they were each going to have time with Mickey. Empress Park is a large play ground. One must pay to get in. Picture an abandoned lot that with a perimeter wall and gate, add a bunch of trees, a small stream, and play ground equipment from the 1950s that has not been maintained and you have Empress Park. Be careful of the sharp rusty metal where the equipment has broken; it’s all over.

We had a ton of fun with the kids as you can imagine. Pushing them on the swings, discovering small crabs and fish in the little pond, catching them as they came down the slides and eating popcorn with them towards the end of our time together. By now I am doing everything in my power not to grab about 10 of them and hide them in my carry on (they would fit) and bring them back home. Pooja has two sisters that are at the orphanage with her. Both are older. Her parents have both died of AIDS and she has only an uncle and a grandma. Both of them don’t want the girls. Her middle sister is extremely smart and was awarded a scholarship for her good grades which will allow her to continue her studies at a higher level. I am finding out how I can support all three girls since education in this area is private for orphaned children. I would do anything to just adopt all three. Pooja is 9, and her sisters are 10 and 14.

We have been taking a lot of photos of the kids; tomorrow we are putting together a small memory book as part of their craft time. Stacey brought a small printer along so last night I was printing out photos and not writing the blog (so you might be getting this a bit later than usual).

Afternoon with the Eunuchs (this part is rated R just in case you are reading the blog with kids)

From a playful park to Hell’s Den in the Red Light District (by the way, Hell’s Den is just my name I gave the place, but I am sure it will stick… they probably already have plans to erect a sign since the name fits so well). We walked down the Alley of Destruction, but first had to pass the Street of Despair and the Road of Disillusionment. They were tempting to walk down but luckily we had Dr. Edwards to guide us through the peril. The streets are packed with small apartments the size of most large bedrooms. The buildings are three stories high and the stairwells are only big enough for one person to walk up or down at a time. Usually 8 people live/work in each of the apartments. Usually just a sheet hanging from the ceiling separates one bed from another. There are almost a million sex workers in Pune, 600K women, 250k men, and about 40k eunuchs. About 10% of them work in Hell’s Den. And once you are in, it is hard to get out. Dr. Edwards and Panna (a eunuch that has found Christ and now helps other eunuchs) work in by providing the ‘night care’ facility and by coming along eunuchs & others, in hopes of getting them to leave the sex trade.

The ‘night care’ called “Santvana Crèche” which translates to Home of Refuge Childcare, attracts about 40-50 children a night. The women who ‘work’ in the red light district take their kids with them and make their kids hide under the bed while they do their ‘work’. An option is for the women to drop their kids off at the Crèche where the children get fed, learn about Christ, play games and do crafts. It is free for the kids to come and they get protected for a few hours from the torment that must strip away from their souls.

We walked upstairs to Panna’s apartment and visited her neighbor’s places as well.  We took pictures and meet many who are full time sex workers (some people are part-time since they go to school during the day and come to Hell’s Den at night to work). And we met many eunuchs too. Eunuchs, for those who don’t know, are men who have been castrated and live as woman. Dr. Edwards wrote an article. Once I read it I will post a link on this blog if it suitable. People in India think eunuchs have special powers and so you might see eunuchs dancing at a wedding or at birthday celebration. Many of them work in the sex trade. In fact I saw more eunuchs in this area than females. We also met a MSM which is the India term for a gay man. Sameer is a MSM who use to work in the sex trade and became a Christian and now helps other MSMs. He has been HIV positive for 14 years and believes Christ has enabled him to live in order to reach other MSMs. He is very educated and articulate. I could write a book on the knowledge that was dropped on me in the short time we were there. And I don’t even know how to process it all.


We left and went to a small café called Barista. It was wonderful to drive to the crowded city and get something to drink. It is the end of the monsoon season here, so everyday has been hot and humid. Drinks usually don’t come with ice and when you do ask for it, the ice melts faster than the sugar. I had a wonderful tropical ice tea that was the best these lips have ever tasted. I also had a moracochino (pictured below). Amazing!

Santvana Crèche

Well, a couple hours later and we were back in Hell’s Den. They had already erected a sign. This time we just went to the Crèche and told the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. We also gave the kids bags with school supplies in them and did a craft with them. One boy, Akish, is very handsome and very intelligent. He is about 11 years old and the detail of which he does his work makes me think he would become a great architect. And a little girl named Mokal won me over. I am a sucker for pigtails. As we left, the eunuchs that saw us during the day all waved to us and said hello. I so wish I could pluck each of those kids out of there. Leaving and driving back to the YMCA was sobering. At this point, my heart is totally wrecked. I believe I have seen the worst in life, those with little hope, and I gave it a huge embrace. I am now completely exhausted. Even at dinner I didn’t talk much.

Thought of the Day

Where do those who are misunderstood go? Where are they accepted and shown love? Too often they congregate to the ugly places in the world. Here they find others who have not been accepted. Here amongst the refuse they find refuge. They are looking for hope. They want to have faith. Many pray on a regular basis. My heart is troubled. I want to help and yet I don’t want to return to such a place.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 16th, 2008 at 9:48 am and is filed under India. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far


Dean, I can’t imagine what you are feeling since just reading your account knots my stomach and hurts my heart. Pooja and her sisters are beautiful! I too wish you could spirit them away. Besides praying, how can we help? I love you, Denise

October 16th, 2008 at 3:41 pm
Matthew Hogg


My heart goes out to you, as I know what a great brother you are…It must be overwhelming to see and experience all you are going through. I am continuing to pray for all of you, I wish I could be there and experience it also…maybe someday. Wow, what a day…

Sorry I have’t kept up with each day like I want too.

Love ya man,


October 16th, 2008 at 9:31 pm

I too am praying for you and thinking of you and the others are you meeting Dean. It is heart wrenching to even hear about such things, let alone to be submerged it, in the heart of “Hell’s Den.” Hopefully the love & prayers being sent your way will help strenghten you & all that you come across.

October 20th, 2008 at 10:04 am