Well here in India the festivities of Diwali are now over, the weather is pleasantly cool and we are looking to shortly start our annual appeal for warm winter clothing and blankets for street children, so look out for that!
As regular supporters will know Rescue Junction is remarkable for accepting all children in need both boys and girls. I believe it is particularly important because if you look at this project the number of girls homeless or living on the street who diappear once they reach puberty is extremely disturbing. Our Work at Rescue Junction and this project is designed to stop this from happening in our area .
So are we having success?
What happened to the dollars you donated?
I can tell you from our survey methodology and our important work with the railway and state police plus our work with the district child protection committee, (of which we are a member) the whole landscape for street, trafficked and exploited children has changed dramatically for the better.
So far as this initiative is concerned here is a short letter to you from Diva
( name changed to protect identity)
My name is Diva and I am 13 or 14 years of age.
I am not really sure.
I am so happy to be here at Rescue Junction. My step father used to beat me and I called Childline 1098 and spoke to a kind lady who asked me to stay where I was and someone will come with an ID card with her photo on it to me within 10 mins. I was desperate and was beaten once too often and I had run away. At Rescue Junction I found many "aunties " and even some uncles who for the first time in my life treated me with respect and gentle kindness.
I am studying and taking vocational training for the future making soft toys, and I feel so happy I am getting support from people who care about me.
Thank you for helping me.
I feel safe.
That's where you dollars go everyone, to help girls like Diva.
Thank you all,
This is Sunita ,director of Rescue Junction and the SIGNAL project, and it's time for an update. As you all know the project caters for girls at risk of abuse by providing shelter, food, education, vocational training and support to these vulnerable young women to enable then to have a new start in life. But here at Rescue Junction we admit girls of any age, ( including babies, who have been abandoned) and girls that have been orphaned.
One of our aims is to increase awareness within the local community about the plight of these girls and help us establish a network of protection for them. We work with the police and raid local brothels and we have found girls as young as twelve years of age. In these cases in conjunction with local authorities we always prosecute and bring those responsible for this abuse to Justice . Over 40 people are behind bars today as a result of these prosecutions. We need to establish there will be no safe haven, no escape from those who choose to abuse children.
There are three girls here who we have placed at our expense ( with the help of your donations) in residential school and who come to Rescue Junction for the holidays. Their mother died, and then a year later their father . The eldest girl ( then just 11 years old) ,Pramilla buried him with her own hands as there was no money for a cremation. In the days and weeks that followed the girls were at risk of starving before concerned villagers brought them to the local administration, who placed them in the only place available, Rescue Junction. We need help to pay for their education and care., Every cent that we get from Global Giving goes to help children like Pramilla, Diya and Shanti.(names changed for child protection reasons)
It costs $1000 to care and educate them for one whole year.
Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity
Wishing you all the best,
This is Sunita Sharma and it's time for another report from Rescue Junction regarding our special initiative for girls here at the centre. I promised in the last report something from one of the girls living here and taking part in this important programme, here it is,
I am 15 years old. When my mother died, when I was 13, my father started to rape me. Like many of the other girls here, people wonder why on earth did you not complain? But complain to who?, I was not sure anyone would listen. And you start to blame yourself.
At that time the free toll number Childline 1098 did not exist in our area, like many other children have done since, I would have dialed it. The call comes to Rescue Junction and is staffed 24 hours every day. But that was not an option then. They would have taken action immediately.
I was so desperate I went to the train lines near the railway station and I was thinking to throw myself under a train. But another girl saw me crying and she told me that there is a place where people can help. A place where I would be safe. I could not believe her but in a nervous way I went with her to the centre called Rescue Junction and I am still here after one year. First it was a relief to be away from my father, and I cried with relief so much. But they have a special thing here for girls where we sit together with staff and when I was ready make a plan for the future. We are taught craft skills making soft toys but it is more than that- we are giving the confidence and support to plan for our future. My father is not allowed to see me or go anywhere near me due to the court. I have no other sisters, and my one brother is in Delhi.
I am also learning to read and write to a much better standard, to know about bank accounts and managing my own finances in the future , many things.
I cannot give my real name so I decided to use the name below.
Please help girls like us,
This is Sunita, Director of the Rescue Junction here again with an update for you all.
One thing we have seen here at the centre in recent times is an increase in the number of girls coming to us. This is partly due to our connection with Child Line but also there is a much wider community awareness in the local area now as we have used events ,visits and the media to raise the issues of child abuse and trafficking locally.
But life remains so hard here for so many. Whatever we have achieved and it is a lot, there is much more to be done.
I want to tell a story of just one instance of what I mean. We were amazed to see coming through our door, (as is often the case without any notice), a girl about 14 years of age shuffling into our centre in the company of two police officers. Then we realised she was shuffling because she had been shackled. The Police told us that she had been found by a police patrol on the cities bypass. They brought her immediately to us. We cut the chains at once. We have photographs but we felt uncomfortable in including them in this report as they are distressing and we also thought this would not be appropriate.
After a great deal of comforting and reassurance we found out this girl was a little mentally challenged and had been kept in chains for a long time. We were able to find out the address and arrests followed. We are searching a specialised home for her, this will take six months and in the meantime we are starting to try and repair the damage done to this girl of which the craft training programme plays an important part.
Your kind support is vital to us, in order that we can reach out to more girls in danger and who the victims of abuse. I have asked a girl doing the training and living with us to prepare a report in her own words and this will be a part of my next update so look out for that!
On another note the subject of another report through our appeal on Global Giving Winter warmth for street children we were able to distribute many items of warm clothing and blankets (see photo). And for those in the UK from March 3rd if you give to Global Giving Uk they will give one pound for every two you give for one week only. This is on Global Giving UK only- the link is below
Through your help we are doing what we can and we as always send our heartfelt appreciation to you all.
With Best Wishes for 2014,
My name is Shanti.
It means peace.
I spent some time wondering if my life was worth living.
I was not wanted at home, number four of four girls in my household and my father used to say that's four girls to many. He wasn't particularly violent, just indifferent. I did not really know a mother's love either she died when I was very young. We learnt to fend for ourselves. There was no school only chores, endless chores.
Then one day when we awoke and our father was no longer there, as if he was ever really there in the first place. I was only 10 years of age. My sisters were 12, 13 and 15 years old
We lived in what is called a Jopri in India, basically plastic wrapped around a wooden frame, I had never known anything different. We often moved as the police would sometimes come and smash it down . There was no community to care for us. My eldest sister got an infected sore and died, with my other sisters we did our best to bury her near the railway line. We begged at the station, we were so hungry .
And then everything changed. A women with kindly eyes spoke to us and later came to us with a women police officer, we fell at the officers feet begging her not to arrest us, but the woman said we are here to help and held out her hand. That was one year ago.
I had often wondered where love was, but I found it for the first time here - at Rescue Junction. I am going to school my sisters are also going but getting some vocational training also. I had never really known how to smile, how to laugh , how different things are now".
Note from Sunita- these girls stories are not untypical, sadly but thanks to your kindness we can make all the difference in the world. Please look out for further updates on our centre Rescue Runction in a separate project update very soon. We did not think it right thst we put shantis photograph on this report but I have posted a picture of an abandoned girl child admitted to our centre recently. Shanti was interviewed for her story and not only did she give her permission for us to use her story, she demanded that it be told.
"I want people to know" she said,- "how we were saved"
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