I bought my flight today and cannot contain my excitement! My flight was right about what I budgeted for and I don’t have any extra long layovers, praise the Lord! I leave January 5 for India and return April 4. Here is a reminder for why and whom I am going… to love on girls just like Sarisu*…
SARISU SHY AND STRONG
“So many stories of rescued girls, brothel keepers convicted, and girls loved all the way to recovery make us pause, breathe deep, and say thank you for movement, for growth, for change. Sarisu’s* is one such story provoking that need to pause with gratitude.
She joined the Ooty “Standing Strong” program ten months ago after her rescue by a sister NGO and original placement in a Mumbai government home. From the beginning she was a shy girl who stood on the edges. She responded well to a hug or a conversation, but did not quite know what to do with that attention. Post-hug she would slink back to the edges again and watch.
But as so often happens, and as is the design of the program, she slowly came out of her shell and even tried “assertiveness” on for size. It was awkward to watch, but beautiful all the same.
Nearly from the beginning, Sarisu’s family wanted to visit her in Ooty, in the name of strongly encouraging her to consent to an arranged marriage. For the first several months we were firm, telling them to wait until she had been in the program longer. They agreed, but finally the time came when it actually became healthier for her to see them and face their marriage intentions head on.
The Freedom Firm staff had been encouraging Sarisu to do what she felt best. We told her not to let her family force her to do what she did not want to do, but also to consider what they had to say. We told her to consider trusting God, that he would provide the right husband at the right time for her.
Finally the day arrived. Sarisu’s father arrived in Ooty and we gave them some overdue time together. As her father gently but strongly told her to consider marriage, she replied without the gentleness but with equal strength, “No, I don’t want to get married. I want to stay here. They love me here.” Those were her words. She was bold. She was strong. She had no fear. And that surprised us. She defied her father’s expectations; not an easy thing in a culture where the father’s word is the final word. She displayed the confidence that she could make her own choice. Seeing these qualities surface was beautiful to watch. They were qualities that all too often gave way to her lack of self-esteem.
After that, her father took us aside, explaining that she absolutely needed to come with him, that their family needed for her to get married. We explained patiently that she should not be forced, reminding him that his other daughter committed suicide because of a bad life situation, and that we fully believe God would provide the right person for her. One staff even said, “If your daughter is not happy, will you be happy?”
We took Sarisu’s father to the education building, to the place where she makes jewelry, and to eat lunch where she sits each day for her afternoon meal. After taking all this in, after seeing all that his daughter was learning, after seeing how happy she was with Freedom Firm, Sarisu’s father changed his tone completely. He asked us to teach her computer as well. He saw the beautiful jewelry she had learned to make and was awed by his daughter’s new talent.
While eating lunch, tears filled her father’s eyes; Sarisu’s as well. We are not entirely sure why, but we have a sense that it’s because he loves his daughter and is thankful she is now well looked after. As he left that day, he turned to Sarisu and told her directly to listen to us and to obey. They were strong words, but night and day different than his strong admonition earlier that day. Not only had she changed over months of work and love, but he had as well over a short ten hour visit.”
* Name changed
I love the updates Freedom Firm has on their website. It’s an excellent way to understand in a more tangible way what there is to pray for and rejoice over.
read one girl’s story of being trafficked: http://www.freedom.firm.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=164&Itemid=181