Well, there is much I desire to write. But I’ll start with a more focused look at Tuesday. I had my first full day at Smyrna (where the girls’ program takes place) and then I went to Roja (the safe house they live) and stayed through dinner with them there. Things went well at Smyrna. I read some stories to some of the girls, they practiced reading english with me, and I helped with odds and ins with the card making process.
What I really want to talk about is something that happened at Roja (where four of the girls live). One girl, who quite quickly has been a buddy of mine, freely told her story with me. She is 22 years old, I’ll call her Joy* because upon meeting her I could see it oozing out of her. Anyway, she was asking me about my family, how many siblings I have etc… and after I asked her about hers, she began to freely share her story. It was really incredible to have her share with me so quickly after being acquainted. There came a point where I was not understanding what she was saying (it was the english phrase for “red light area”) and then Anne, another volunteer here, began to translate for me. It must have been an hour and a half of her sharing.
She began her story as a girl living in Mumabi, born to a Hindu man and Muslim woman, at the age of 11 she went to a brothel (she didn’t explain the details of how she got there). She was in the red light area of Mumbai for two years, until the age of 13 when an International Justice Mission social worker got her out. Next she went to a Catholic safe house where she stayed until she was 18 (because it was only meant for minors). When she was about 16 her mother’s family told her social worker that her mother had died, but she had trouble believing it them because her mother’s family never liked her. When she had to leave the Catholic home at 18, she went to find her mother’s family. She hoped now that she was older they would like her, but they shunned her telling her she had no reason to be there and that her mother was dead. She then was able to find her father’s sister to stay with. She later found out her mother was not dead, but had money taken from her and so she left. (To this day Joy* doesn’t know if her mother is alive or where she is.) The order of some of the next aspects of her life may not be correct, as I wrote it down from memory. Joy* then worked with underprivileged kids in Bangalore and it was around this time that she began to understand Jesus and the forgiveness he gives. This inspired her to share her testimony at her church. Right after she did this, she got very very ill and almost died. She was in the ICU of a hospital for at least one month. The people of her church began to pray and fast for her, and she improved. While she was in the hospital she had a vision of Jesus’ nail pierced hand coming through the window and he touched her head telling her, “You are my child, I did this for you. Now I am healing you. Keep telling your story.” Indeed, she was healed and then was able to got to Bible school for about three years. She was able to connect with International Justice Mission and work in their office. She told them she wanted to help rescue girls just like her. So Mala and Greg, who were in charge of the office for International Justice Mission when she was rescued, told her about Freedom Firm because since then they had begun their own NGO. They were able to work out how should could come from Bangalore to have a place to stay, learn, and have a form of income (jewelry/card making). She came here to Freedom Firm in November and will soon beginning to make enough of an income to begin to support herself and contribute to her rent etc.
Joy* is probably the most spiritually mature girl here. Her passion is a great influence on the other girls. Her story differs some from that of the other girls due to the fact that she has been out for 9 years, but it is just as wonderful that she is here.
Since Tuesday, I have found out more about some of the girls via staff meetings and issues that have come up and how to address them. I will share some of those things at another time I’m sure. It’s very helpful to get some background on the girls to better understand them individually. I’m thankful Joy* was so open to share hers.