Children from the red light district finding hope for the future

India (MNN) – Rapaka and Chidipi are two sisters in India growing up in a safe home with good meals and access to good education. But it didn’t always used to be this way. In fact, before someone intervened, the two sisters were living apart.

Rapaka, the older sister, was one of the first girls to live in India Partners’ safe home for girls. But Chidipi was too young to live in the home. Instead, she lived in the red light district with her mother.

Donna Glass of India Partners shares her story: “[Chidipi] was witness to what was going on with her mother and would end up roaming the streets in search of food and became weak and lacked the proper nutrition that a young toddler needs. But her mother decided when she got old enough that [she would bring] her also to the home. And because the girls had moved into a new home that had more space, there was room to take her in.”

We’re rounding out National Human Trafficking Awareness Month by focusing on a way that you can impact a life in India who might otherwise continue to be abused by human trafficking. Days of Safety is a program that allows mothers to send their children to a safe place to grow up. Each day of safety means proper nutrition, viable education, and an environment to reclaim their self-worth and heal from the wounds of the past. In other words, Days of Safety mean hope for children who’ve come from a very dark place.

(Photo courtesy of India Partners)

This project fits right into India Partners’ vision: An India rich with hope, justice, and compassion.

“Our focus is a lot on the children, both girls and boys who end up wandering the streets of the red light districts,” Glass explains, although they also connect women who want out of the red light district with the people who can help them.

Often, even if the women don’t want to leave themselves, they want something better for their children. Days of Safety is an outstretched hand that gives them the choice to let their child grow up in a safe place.

“The child is able to go to school [while] getting good nutrition, getting medical care… and once a mother brings a child out of the red light district into one of the homes that we work with, then they stay there unless the mother decides that they need to have their child back with them for whatever reason.”

One of the biggest challenges to this, however, is if the child is a girl. The mother’s pimp might view a girl child as his property—as future revenue. And so, if the mother gives up her child, it could mean trouble for her.

“So the mothers may face retribution whether it’s a beating or other forms of retribution from their pimps if they get their daughters out of the red light district.”

Even once those hurdles are jumped, there are emotional challenges ahead for the children.

“Often times they are withdrawn. They might act out because they’ve never known a loving environment—not saying that their moms don’t love them, but they’ve witnessed so much. Many of them very well may have Post-traumatic stress syndrome. So it takes some work to continue to show them that they’re cared for.”

Glass says usually, the other children play a huge part in helping the new child open up and blossom and heal.

Today, Chidipi is well-settled into her new life.

“So now she is also getting the proper nutrition and she’s become very energetic because she’s flourishing. And she’s become talkative and bubbly, and she’s making friends really easily with the other girls. She’s one of the youngest girls in the home so everybody kind of is a big sister to her, but her real big sister is actually there. And so they are reunited.”

The girls go to the same school where they are getting a quality education. And in December, she even got to celebrate her first Christmas where she got to attend a special feast with the rest of the girls. She also received gifts and clothes.

“Those kinds of things will bring hope and change to a life,” Glass says. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

“They are just so bright and have this great future ahead of them. And because people have provided for Days of Safety, there was room for the younger sister to join her older sister.”

Thanks to participants in this program, no child has ever had to be turned away from this program as long as their mother wants them there. Your gift helps to keep this programming going forward. When you contribute to Days of Safety, you’re ensuring the safe upbringing for children in need.

So, as we end January, will you consider contributing to Days of Safety? You can do so, here.

“If a person is horrified by human trafficking and also the long-term effects of the children who get caught up in it, it sometimes can be so overwhelming… Well, a person can help [by] working with a program or working with an approach that is successful and to ensure that it continues to be successful and so that you know that you are making differences.”