Here in the United States, if you saw furniture sitting beside the road, you’d probably assume it was trash or free to anyone willing to come pick it up.
In the Banchara community of India, though, furniture sits along the streets for a different reason. A cot beside the road is a sign that the daughter of a family nearby is for sale. If a girl is seen sitting on the bed, it means she is accepting customers that day.
I recently shared about my visit to the Banchara community. There, I met girls who have been forced to sit on one of these cots, advertising that they will sell their bodies to help pay for their brothers’ marriage dowries. Some of these girls start as young as 12 years old. They should be focused on schoolwork, playing, having fun, and dreaming. Instead, they are exploited, scared and risk disease and early pregnancies on a daily basis.
All I could see was the hopelessness until I met a girl I’ll call Mia. She beat the odds, escaped a life as a sex worker, and achieved her dreams. She represents the dreams and goals of so many of these girls forced into the sex trade.
Mia’s father died when she was 8 years old, leaving her family in a dire financial situation. She also had two brothers who would need dowries in order to get married. So, after Mia finished her basic education she knew what was expected — she would have to enter the "community business."
But then, Mia heard about an incredible opportunity. Not too far away, a Freedom Home, funded by World Help, was being built.
Mia was one of the first girls to live at the Freedom Home. Instead of having to work in the local sex industry, she was able to pursue an education and live in a loving and caring family-style community. Best of all, she was able to pursue her biggest dream — to go to nursing school!
Today, Mia works in a hospital saving lives.
Instead of selling her body, she is healing others’ bodies. Instead of sitting on a cot waiting for customers, she leans over bedsides and cares for her patients.
Mia’s life is the complete opposite of what it could have been, all because of compassionate people who gave selflessly to help introduce her to freedom.
But Mia still wishes she could rescue her friends who had to enter the sex industry. Most of these young women have children of their own now, making it nearly impossible to go back to school.
Mia was blessed to be introduced to freedom at a young age, but there are so many other girls who still need our help. Thankfully, initiatives such as Freedom Homes are giving them the power to choose a different life — and that’s all a girl needs to escape the sex industry.
Noel Yeatts is an active advocate for social justice and humanitarian needs around the world. With over 20 years of experience in humanitarian work, Noel is an author, speaker, and the President of World Help, an international, Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished communities around the world. Noel regularly takes the stage for speaking engagements and advocacy events around the country and has been widely recognized for her groundbreaking book, "Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time." To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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