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Inspiration With A Side Of Cupcakes

There was a different kind of buzz at the Thomson Reuters office last Wednesday. Besides the bright, lingering Diwali decor, the conference room was decked out to welcome 30 excited girls from the Udaan programme of Apne Aap Women’s CollectiveUdaan aims to prevent second-generation prostitution among the daughters of the women in Mumbai’s Kamathipura sex trade by inspiring them to pursue professional courses and eventually gain financial independence. The source of inspiration, this Wednesday, was the team at Thomson Reuters (a global mass media and data services firm), which was just as excited as the girls.

At 1 pm, the group arrived: the littlest a chirpy 11-year-old, the oldest, 16. For four hours, everyone put their work on pause, leaving their screens to sit across the table from the visitors. After introductions and a few ice-breakers, managers shared their personal stories. Some talked of investing as much time in hobbies as academics, others touched upon the importance of following one’s heart. A single mother spoke about braving the storm of disapproval and taking control of one’s life. Unlike most groups of preteens and teens, this group needed no shushing; they listened with a rapt attention that made it possible to forget they were kids. The team at Thomson Reuters remembered, however, and made sure to pepper serious discussions with singing sessions, jokes, and bites of cupcakes one staff member had made for the girls.

The day concluded with a tour of the office and a question from some of the staff: would any of the girls return to work here? Some nodded shyly; one replied with an emphatic, “Yes.” She wants to be a lawyer, she said, and would come back with her degree. The same excited anticipation that started the visit returned with the knowledge that becoming an employee wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. Thank you, Thomson Reuters, for putting smiles on these girls’ faces and inspiration in their hearts!

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