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Chapter 2

Savhera is born

By January 2018, it had become clear that dignified employment for survivors of sex trafficking in Delhi was still only a dream for women exploited on GB Road. There was no social enterprise providing vocational training or job skills–let alone jobs themselves–to these women who so desperately needed them. This left Dr. Bouche with two options: 1) start something from the ground up; or 2) be added to the tally of people who make promises to these women that they don’t keep. The former was the only option.

But Dr. Bouche had a full-time job and no business experience to speak of, especially in India! Enter Usri Roy.

A month into their work together, Dr. Bouche told Usri her problem, “I need to find dignified employment for this woman. I’ve been searching for the past six months and can’t find anything. I am at a loss for what to do!” Usri replied, “Vanessa, we need to start something!”

Starting a business in India was not a daunting thought for Usri. Afterall, she had done it before! By March, they had determined that it would be an essential oil business. But now for a name…

Usri and Dr. Bouche had a Skype call with about seven women living on GB Road and encouraged them to think of a name. “This is YOUR business. It’s being created for you. You have naming rights!” Within a week, after brainstorming names, one of the women called Usri and exclaimed, “SAVHERA!”

Savhera is a Hindi word that means “morning,” “new dawn,” or “new beginning.” This is, of course, intentional. Savhera is more than a job for them. It’s a new beginning!

From March through the remainder of 2018, there was a flurry of activity from hiring a production manager and the first four survivors to making decisions on suppliers (and everything in between). The team was motivated and making significant strides down the path of dignified employment for sex trafficking survivors. But someone was missing.