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"
This is Sunita with the usual update. Sorry that this time it is a little bit late, but we have been so busy here at Rescue Junction. as you know the SIGNAL project is based here at the centre.
In the past month we have received many children including two abandoned infants, one placed in a packed bag and thrown near a river. Both are now doing well and will be placed for adoption shortly. The girls at the centre help our staff with such children and we hope this will help towards their parenting skills in the future.
Here at Rescue Junction, our 24 hour centre for homeless missing and runaway children in Gaya in Bihar we work with three different groups of children and I thought it would help to explain this to you all.
Firstly we have the long term street children, children who have been living on the streets , and have no family. 30% of these children are girls. Do you remember from a previous report it was mentioned that older girls living on the street often disappear once they reach the age of 12 or 13? . This is because they often become prostitutes. The programme you have supported is aimed at preventing this by providing skills and support to enable the girls to live an honest and decent life. We also conduct raids with the police on local brothels to make sure no underage girls are there.
Secondly we work with missing and abandoned children who are often brought to us by the Police, especially the government railway police found running away or lost on trains. 40% of these children are girls. Almost all can be rehabilitated with family members but those that can't stay with us and learn a skill under this programme .
And thirdly we work with the local slum area children who have a home and family but live in rough shelters near the railway line. We have a special education programme for them. 50% are girls and they can join the classes under this special project that you have supported.
Here is what one of the girls says about the project,
"I want to send my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have sent money to help us continue our skills training here at Rescue Junction. It is not just the training which one day may lead to a vitally important source of income, it is the care and concern we receive from the staff that helps us so much adjust to a more normal life.
I send my thanks to you all "
And so do I,
Greetings to you all from a very very Hot Bihar, it was recently 46C ( thats 115F) . we are praying for the rains to come soon!
Firstly in this report I feel I must mention a micro project which was very much attached to this appeal and has due to the kindness and generosity of so many been successfully funded. This meant we are immediately able to start tailoring and sewing training in addition to craft skills which is a huge boost for the girls. ( see the photo above)
How things have changed here in our area of Bihar. One of the main aims of the centre was to increase community awareness of child trafficking as we cannot have our eyes and ears everywhere. We recently had a further meeting with the Railway Protection Force, (these are the armed guards that travel on many running trains) and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the traffickers to move children. Several agents involved in this "trade" have been arrested as a result of our cooperation with a number of law enforcement agencies. But of course Rescue is not enough, and we need to offer the opportunity to children to learn real skills in a supportive environment which can help change their lives around. This of course is the very nature of this appeal and we appreciate your support very much.
The Trust has a policy on all its appeals on Global Giving, that every single penny we receive from all appeals is directed immediately to the place of need, with no deductions in India for administration or any other purpose. That is our promise to you,
I hope you are feeling the warmth of summer, and with thanks again and good wishes to you all, i will ask one of the girls to write you all a personal note in our next update.
This is Sunita the project director with another report. The cold winter days have gone and the heat of summer awaits.
As you know this projects aims to train girls at risk in craft training to such a high level that they will be able to sell the stuffed toys and other items that they make.
We assist the older girls in getting safe accommodation together and our staff support them through this process. If you do not mind we would like to add tailoring skills to the courses we can offer these girls and we have a micro project called “Help girls at risk learn sewing skills” on Global Giving . Please take a look !!
But of course the girls also need a basic education and the photograph shows a volunteer from the UK helping out at the centre. You can visit our website (the link is below) for details of the volunteer programme but this year’s programme is already full.
There is also the problem of child marriage.The below is from a press report,
Bihar is one of the hotspots of child marriage in India as 51 percent girls there are married even before they are 18 years of age, officials said here Wednesday.
"Fifty-one percent of girls are married before they are 18 in Bihar," said N. Vijaya Lakshmi, managing director of the Women Development Corporation of the state government.
In her welcome address at a day-long workshop on the prevention of child marriage in Bihar, she said the mean age at marriage for girls is 17.4 in the state as against 19.5 for the country.
"Child marriage is rampant but reporting is poor. Lack of data is a key issue to make a difference," she said.
According to her, the vicious circle of poverty works in predictable patterns in Bihar. Poverty coupled with other social factors lead to early marriage. The child marriage then leads to deprivation of education and vulnerability to health risks and increases the risk of domestic violence and abuse.
I will leave you with quotes from some of our girls here at the centre,
“ Without you I have no other place to go, it is the first time in my life I have found love and care”
It is the first time I have found respect”
“We are just as important as boys”
Thanks for all your help, please remember March 13th is matching donation day on Global Giving so that’s the day to help!
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