Arathi wants to help people. Her future goals include becoming a social worker so that one day she can help girls in a similar situation to hers. Arathi is one of eight girls currently enrolled in a six-month leadership training school. We see in her infinite potential and the brightest of futures, but despite her radiant smile and can-do attitude, Arathi has lived a difficult sixteen years. She’s experienced rejection, abandonment, and despair. When she tells her story, she always starts at the beginning, “While I was in my mother's womb, my father did not accept me as his daughter and divorced my mother.” His rejection followed her — a shadow she couldn’t shake. Then, her depressed mother passed away from cancer. Her older brother neglected to care for her. Her aunt and uncle abused her. And so, alone and despairing, she ran away — more than once. Finally, attempting to cross the border between Nepal and India, she was taken aside by a staff member of a partner organization, and warned about the dangers of human trafficking. Having no home to return to, Arathi was brought to a safe house where she is learning skills, continuing her education, and becoming the leader she was meant to be. She finally has the chance to thrive.
Karuna, a teenager from eastern Nepal, is no stranger to pain. As the oldest of six children, with two violent, alcoholic parents, she shouldered the burden of keeping her siblings alive. She remembers frequent days in which they had only a cup of water to fill their stomachs. One day, Karuna shared her hopelessness with a neighbor she called “Auntie.” Auntie invited her to a wedding to cheer her, and bought her new clothes to wear. On the way to the wedding, Karuna was offered juice - which had been drugged - and she awoke to find herself in a hotel in a far-off city where Auntie had left her. For six months, Karuna endured agony beyond words. She was subjected to 8-10 men daily, force-fed drugs, beaten, and burned with cigarettes. She wanted to end her life, but she was never left alone enough to succeed. Finally, she saw her chance to escape and fled on foot to the border with nearby India where she was discovered by staff members from our partner in Nepal. She was noticed and taken aside. The staff listened to her story and provided her with hope. They gave her legal counsel and she testified against three of her traffickers, who were convicted and sent to prison. She has, in her words, “recovered from the trauma in [the] loving environment [of the safe house],” where she has continued her education, and teaches literacy to the newly arrived girls whom she calls, “Beloved Sisters.” She believes that God saved her, and that her “future is very bright.” One day, she hopes to pursue fashion design, as well as social work to help other trafficking survivors.
Saras, a 25-year-old woman, was given a life-changing proposition: leave her home in India to work as a well-paid housemaid in prosperous Dubai. The man set everything in order, and she went. But after two months of work, she had not received any wages. She wanted to demand what was due her. She wanted to quit. But, she found herself helplessly entrapped in this foreign land. Without money, she couldn’t go home. She repeatedly contacted the man who had given her the position, begging to return home. He finally assented, but when she arrived in New Delhi, he imprisoned her in a hotel room with the intention of selling her body and soul. Before he accomplished this evil plan, Saras learned about our partner organization through an acquaintance, and sent word of her imprisonment. Her nightmare came to an end in January 2018, when our partner organization and the local police raided the hotel room and set her free. Although her story was going from bad to worse, we stepped in at the eleventh hour, and brought her into safety. Saras is now at a safe house recovering, and rediscovering herself.
Sumi, a teenager from an extremely impoverished village in Nepal, accepted a ride from a kind truck driver while walking the two hours home from her daily trek to collect water. He kidnapped her and assaulted body and soul for endless days. The nightmare was to continue as he smuggled her to the border to be sold, but a partner of Our Daughters International, was suspicious, and Sumi was rescued! She spent six months in an safe house, healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, before returning to her village. Back home, Sumi was determined to protect the other girls from danger, and she knew the long walks for clean water made them vulnerable.
But, Sumi had a story and a voice. She shared her experiences and urged the community to dig their own wells. The village requested help from our partner organization, and four wells were dug nearby, sustaining 1,000 families, and protecting hundreds of girls. Sumi became recognized as a local leader, and she continues to advocate for positive changes in her community today.