Tag Archives: Safe House

Start A Revolution!

As we walk into the New Year, I encourage you to make a change where you are! There are many ways to get involved, not only with anti-trafficking organizations (Red Thread Movement), but also other causes that fight for the underprivileged and those in need. Make this the year you step out and MAKE A CHANGE!

On a personal note, I have always had a heart for women who are victims of sex trafficking. In 2006 I attended a mission conference called Urbana. At this conference, I went to a seminar titled “Sex Trafficking” sponsored by International Justice Mission. I had no idea this one decision would change the rest of my life. At the seminar, I learned many things: sex trafficking is happening in most countries around the world. What a shock for me to find babies as young as one being sexually abused! Americans make up a large percentage of customers world-wide for trafficking. How unspeakable!

As appalling as this news was, it also stirred me. I didn’t know how, but I decided that day my goal was to work against trafficking. Though I have left many conferences with new passions that slowly fade over time, my desire to fight trafficking only grew stronger. It started with doing research and spreading the word. My passion has evolved over the years, and has shaped my choice in a degree and jobs. With each step, I become more determined to fight this evil. In 2011 I spent six weeks in Bolivia with Word-Made Flesh, learning from staff who serve women in prostitution in El Alto. In 2013 I embarked on a journey to Nepal working with KI Nepal, an anti-trafficking organization. I lived and worked in a safe home with rescued girls. I am honored to have spent seven months there and to partner with them in the U.S.

One rescued girl told me something I will never forget. After being in Nepal a few months, we sat together with another girl who helped translate. Sunita said, “Thank you for coming and spending time with us in the safe home. I will never forget you taking the time to come here from far away and spend time and care for us girls. Thank you.” I cannot tell you how encouraging this was! To get feedback from one of the very girls I mentored in the safe home meant the world to me. Things like that spur me on to do more!

*Name changed for protection

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Sunita and me last January. Identity protected.

What is your passion? What is your story? Whatever it is, it matters! You can make a difference in the world around you, and I challenge you in 2015 to start or continue on that journey!

What will you do? START A REVOLUTION!

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A Day in the Life of a Rescued Girl

 

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Ever wonder what it’s like for the girls living in the safe house?

Every day is scheduled. They take turns cleaning, preparing meals, and washing clothes. Many of them are awake by 6am. From The beautician instructor arrives around 7:30 and the girls have beautician training from 8am until 10am. Breakfast follows, which consists of rice, lentil soup, and a vegetable cooked in curry seasonings. Soon after, the girls go to the sewing room, where the house mother, Basanti trains the girls in tailoring. Throughout the afternoon, they work on patterns, projects, and making Red Thread bracelets. Lunch is around 2:30pm. The girls have English class at 3:30pm which supplements the English lessons they take in school. They are eager to learn. Later in the afternoon, the girls usually kick a ball around or play bad mitten (a team of Americans that came last summer brought several sets for the girls). They have Fellowship each night before dinner, and eat around 7:30pm. The girls are in bed by 10pm and begin again the next day. Saturday is their day off from work and school. Sunday is a work day like every other day of the week.


ESCAPE

We recently received the following story from Nepal:

A 16-year-old girl has been rescued after being trafficked into India, enslaved in numerous brothels, and eventually escaping. Here is her story:

Alina* grew up as a middle child in a family of 11 in a rural Nepalese village. Her mother was neglectful, so Alina moved in with her aunt.

At age 14, Alina went to visit her sister. During this particular stay, Alina’s sister had to leave town for a few days, so Alina went to a neighbor’s home while she was gone. As Alina was helping with the household chores, the neighbor, a middle-aged woman, encouraged Alina saying, “You are so fast with your work!” Alina smiled. She rarely received any positive attention at home and the change was nice. The woman told Alina that she had worked in India making good money. Alina shared that she had a sister living in India. The neighbor offered to take her to her sister and to help her find a good job. She promised Alina that she would have money to buy nice clothes and extra to send home to her family. Out of a desire to help with family finances, in particular, medical needs for her grandmother, Alina agreed to go to India.They talked for hours, discussing “life in India” and making plans. The woman warned Alina not to tell her sister about her plans, and the day after Alina’s sister returned , she slipped out to meet the woman and begin their journey.

For one week, Alina stayed with the woman in India. During this time, the woman bought Alina nice clothes, treated her to fancy meals, and taught her about Indian culture. Unbeknownst to Alina, the woman was a local prostitute and trafficker, and was preparing her to be sold in India’s Red Light District. At the end of the week, the woman told Alina the truth: that she would be forced to work as a prostitute in a brothel. Alina cried and threatened to call the police, but she could not escape. The woman met with a brothel owner to broker the sale of Alina’s freedom. Once they had reached an agreement, they forced Alina to sign documents stating that she was there by choice. Sealed with a thumbprint at the bottom, Alina’s freedom was ripped away from her.

 Taken in one of India’s Red Light Districts.

For two years, Alina was forced to work in different brothels, hotels, and dance bars in the Red Light District. Alina was sometimes rebellious and fought the traffickers and brothel owners. In one instance, she was given housework for one month instead of having customers. It was common for her to have 8 customers a night. Sometimes she even had Nepali men as customers. When this occurred, she would cry and plead with them to help. Many times, they cried as well and did not assault her. Some even tried to help her escape.

One day, after escaping from a brothel, Alina caught a train, where she met a Nepali beautician trainer. Without mentioning that she recently escaped from forced prostitution, Alina told her she wanted to return to Nepal to be with her family. The woman agreed to take her during the Dashain Festival, and that Alina could stay with her and work in her beauty parlor until then. At the end of the month, the woman escorted Alina to Nepal and stayed in contact with her by phone. After the two-week holiday, the woman invited Alina to return to India and work in the beauty parlor with her, not knowing that she was underage. Alina agreed.

Border Girl

One of the brave women that work KIN’s anti-trafficking border units.

However, on their way back to India, the two were stopped by KIN staff at the border. Both were interviewed by the staff, where it was discovered that Alina was underage. Because the woman was not aware of this, and had legitimate papers to work in India as a beautician, the staff let her go. Alina was taken to the safehouse.

Alina is now receiving counseling in the safe house for the two years she spent in India’s Red Light District. She is outgoing and willing to share information about her experiences with KIN’s staff. Though some parts of her story are hard to share, she works to continue in order to help other girls like her. Through her bravery and willingness to share, KIN hopes to better help other girls in similar situations.

*Name changed for protection.

Check back for updates on Alina and other girls in the safe house. If you are interested in helping Alina and other girls like her, please consider donating to their recovery at  EternalThreads.org.

UPDATE: Alina, along with a KIN staff member, has met with a lawyer to begin steps to prosecute the woman who trafficked her into India and sold her into the brothels and possibly some of the brothel owners.  KIN has a strong record of successfully prosecuting traffickers in Nepal. Thanks to the bravery of these girls, and your contributions to their recovery, traffickers are being put away, making Nepali villages safer for other girls.

UPDATE: Part 2 of our PureCharity fundraising has been completed! Please consider donating towards sewing machines for the girls at EternalThreads.org.


Girls Being Girls

After contemplating my time in Nepal, I realized my most profound experience was simply spending time with the girls that live in the safe houses. Not in serious conversation or watching them construct beautiful garments or worshipping by their side, though each of those were powerful in and of themselves, but playing with them and watching these sweet girls just be girls.

After worship, they led us up to their rooms where they proceeded to drill us with questions. How old are you? Do you have children? Are you in “University”?  In return, we asked their names and ages. Most were 15-18, though the youngest was 13.  One of the girls noticed my Red Thread bracelet. She was weaving bracelets tied on her bedpost. She smiled and asked, “You wear in America?” I told her “yes”. Suddenly, a group of excited girls crowded around, inspecting my bracelet, trying to figure out if it was one they had personally made.

I smiled and told them there were many people in the US that wore their bracelets to remember to pray for them and so that others would know about them. I then showed the girls pictures of others wearing their Red Thread bracelets (Thank you to everyone that sent them in!). They loved it. You would have thought it was Christmas morning from their excitement!

After we finished looking at pictures, I was called down to get fitted for my Nepali suit, a traditional outfit of Nepal. A dozen girls followed me down. As I am quite a bit taller and larger than a typical Nepalese woman, they found the display and my commentary to be quite funny, their laughter filling the small room. In their culture, my size is considered beautiful (loved that!).

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Most of the girls are behind the camera. I’m trying to be still and not laugh while she’s taking my measurements.

As we were finishing up, I noticed one of the girls happily singing to herself. I asked “Singer?” The others replied, “Dancer!” to which the girl proceeded to show me a little Nepali dance. Here’s where it gets good. She then asked ME to try it. Alright. Why not? So I watched her again and tried to replicate her moves. All the girls giggled and smiled. Then she asked me to show her some American moves. Unprepared, I busted out the Macarena.  She became even more excited (a feat I didn’t think would be possible) and wanted me to show her again so she can try it. We went back and forth like this, her showing me more Nepali moves and me showing her Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, the Chicken Dance, I’m a Little Tea Pot, and a good old-fashioned Texas line dance. More of the girls joined in, laughing and twirling, dancing barefoot across the floor. What a perfectly normal scene: girls just being girls.