“I belong to a reputed family. My father works in the police department. But when I disclosed my sexual identity to my parents, I was thrown out of my house,” says Nakshatra, who identifies as a trans person.
Nakshatra says she never associated with the gender she was assigned at birth. “I always felt feminine and decided to come out at the age of 16. I wanted to be honest with my parents. But they did not accept me and left me to fend for myself,” she adds.
A native of Gulbarga, Nakshatra left her native, spending months on the streets of Karnataka and public spaces. “I begged during the day and slept at Kempegowda bus station for over six months,” she says.
Later on, the trans person community came to her rescue. “I continued to beg and earn money through sex work in Bengaluru. I used my earnings to complete my graduation in mechanical engineering in Delhi. I knew that I did not want to live a life of misery,” the 23-year-old says.
A family for the homeless
After completing her BTech degree, Nakshatra then returned to Bengaluru and volunteered with the local civic body. “I wanted to earn respect and live a life of dignity. One day, I found some orphans on the streets and empathised with them, as even I was orphaned. So I decided to help them,” she says.
She proceeded to rescue and offer shelter to the children with her friends. “In 2019, my friends Silk, Reshma, Milana and Soundarya agreed, and we launched NGO Nammane Summane, to offer shelter for destitute, homeless people, HIV patients and orphans,” she says, adding, “I even sold my jewellery to set up funds for the cause.”
Since then they have rented a three-storey property at Gangondanahalli which houses the poor. “The NGO provides three meals a day, offers separate beds, counselling and education to children. Separate living arrangements are made for males and females,” she says.
Shantama, a 58-year-old homeless woman living at the NGO, says, “I failed to bear children, so my husband left me after our marriage. He wanted to marry another woman and forced me to leave the house. I was devastated as I had no one to look after me and no place to stay.”
She adds, “I was in another state in Karnataka, and when Nammane Summane started. The police had informed me about this NGO and asked me to seek help there. I came to Bengaluru, and Nakshatra accepted me with open arms and asked me to stay at their orphanage. I am currently working as a volunteer here at the orphanage, and I am comfortable with my life now.”
Nakshatra also received many orphans when the pandemic hit. “These children lost their parents during the pandemic, so we offered them shelter,” she adds.
The NGO currently has 65 people, of which 52 are adults and the rest are children.
The NGO meets its expenses through its five founding members. “Reshma works as a tailor while Milana works as a beautician. Soundarya serves at an NGO. Silk and I manage Nammane Summane. At times our friends help out with funds,” she says.
Nakshatra says this is her idea of living with respect and contributing to a social cause. “We face discrimination all the time and struggle to find a place to stay or even start our NGO. But we never gave up,” she adds.
But Nakshatra says their NGO needs financial support and seeks help.
“We always struggle for funds as the expenses to run our NGO is Rs 50,000 a month. We would appreciate it if people support and contribute to our cause,” she says.
If you would like to help out Nakshatra and her cause, click here.
Edited by Yoshita Rao