Where We started and Where We are!!
Cactus Founder Director, Nusrat Khan would see clients who were survivors of child sexual abuse in her practice as a clinical psychologist. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse herself
After 25 years, 1 major accident, 6 surgeries and 2 years of being bed ridden, Nusrat Khan realized the impact that she had of her brief encounter of being sexually abused as a kid at the age of 7. After this moment of realization and confrontation to her husband (Co- founder) Rohit Pahade, the couple decided to begin this journey of educating the world about child sexual abuse and its prevention.
The Founder Director got back to her clients who were survivors of CSA and interviewed them. In this initial step there was a moving realization for her, Nusrat felt that things would have been different if someone would have sensitized her about CSA in her childhood, things could have been different.
Nusrat created a module for children and started facilitating it in the schools. 2 months into this journey was another checkpoint of realization that Cactus foundation still holds firmly that educating and sensitizing children about CSA and its prevention is not enough. Adults need to be a part of this movement of awareness as well!
Soon Nusrat and Rohit got in touch with IAS through and that became the first breakthrough for the organization in terms of its scalability. In the next few months they trained 10,000 individuals and were now working with the Government of Maharashtra.
It was during 2013 that Cactus Foundation was registered as an NGO when the team was anonymously nominated for the Mahindra Spark The Rise award. Which they won with 50,000 votes receiving a grant of 1 lakh rupees.
2016 served as another breakthrough for Cactus Foundation when 5 year old Seher Pahade started making bookmarks with CSA prevention messages on them. The team decided to offer few bookmarks to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Seingaokar. On being introduced with the work that Cactus Foundation does, he extended a hand of companionship getting the Municipal Cooperation and Zhilla Parishad on board.
It was during this time the team was also struggling with convincing schools to let Cactus Foundation take the awareness sessions with the students. Seingoankar sir helped break this time consuming obstacle by issuing letters to the schools making CSA Prevention sessions compulsory.
2016 was also the year when Chai Time was introduced in Solapur. Chai Time sessions would happen every Friday and Saturday where women of Solapur would gather, discuss and share women related issues. During one such session, the topic Child Sexual Abuse was introduced and women poured their hearts out talking about their experiences.
5 of these women then volunteered to become trainers with Cactus Foundation and they underwent intensive training.
At this point, Nusrat Khan would not let go of any opportunity to speak about this cause, and this zeal made 2016 a revolutionary year for the face of the problem of Child Sexual Abuse in the city of Solapur.
Nusrat thought that this was the time to take the conversation out in public, and the Chuppi Todo walkathon was conceptualized. Chuppi Todo turned out to be a huge milestone where a topic that people were hesitant to speak about in their bedrooms itself was brought to the village square.
Chuppi Todo (break the silence) was a walk of unison to spread the message of breaking the silence against CSA and bringing attention to this burning issue. 10,000 people from Schools, Colleges, Beedi kamgars, members of the Gynecologist Society became a part making Chuppi Todo the largest walkathone against CSA in the world.
The walkathone was largely supported by the police department of the city who also inaugurated it. Every police officer of the city was appointed at duty for the walkathon and the police band also graced their presence.
Volunteers were appointed to clean the walkathon track to make sure no waste was left behind by the participants.
2017 Chuppi Todo was an iconic event where 100s of survivors came forward to the organization to walk anonymously in the walkathon.
2018 walkathon was joined by members from the Transgender Community and the City Ambassadors from 5 different cities
With the outbreak of the global pandemic covid 19, Cactus shifted its work online and did not stop but just grew better. Cactus Foundation organized Beyond Borders, an online international organization with speakers and over 1400 attendees from across the globe.
The Child Warriors initiative was originated with young children being advocates of prevention of child sexual abuse and creating safe childhoods.
Adults Only online workshop on combat child sexual abuse was organised by the child warriors with registrations and participants from across the globe. Adults Only is now a new feather in the cap, it is now a monthly initiative where free online workshops will be conducted for adults on various topic related to child sexual abuse and parenting..
Cactus Foundation since its beginning has creatively created memories for the people so that people can associate the knowledge about CSA prevention to these heartwarming memories. Cactus Founder Director Nusrat believes that the cause is above all, the cause is about the PEOPLE. Cactus Foundation in its operation has always empowered individuals from the community to speak to their community with a belief that the public connects to the people they are talking to, and who better will connect, empathize and deliver the message than somebody who is one from the crowd.