Thank you for your support of vulnerable girls! You are rescuing them from the horrors of trafficking and you are giving them a new life!
Good news! We expect our new 150-bed shelter to open any day now. We were set to open this Spring and then COVID-19 took over. Thankfully, we've been able to safely begin construction again.
The pandemic has put vulnerable girls at an even higher risk for trafficking, violence, and early child marriage. We've got a team of over 140 health workers in remote villages keeping girls in school and rescuing them from dangerous situations.
Please know that this will be the last report from DFN through GlobalGiving. If you'd like to continue following the work of DFN, please sign up for our e-news. You'll find that link on our website. We'd love to stay in touch with new opportunities to keep vulnerable girls safe and sound.
With the shutdown of India on 3/24, all construction on the 150-bed shelter came to a halt. It's disappointing, especially since it is so very close to being done! Rest assured, as soon as the lockdown is completely lifted, our workers will be back at work!
The good news is that we still have three other shelters that are providing more than 60 young girls and women a new chance for life! Some girls are as young as 4 years old when they come to us. These are girls whose families were going to dedicate their daugthers to a life of ritualized sex slavery. Older teenage girls are ones who have been rescued and redeemd from that horrific life.
When you give to this project, you provide on-going shelter, care, healthcare, AND education to girls whose lives have been stolen from them. You are restoring hope, giving freedom, redeeming their future.
Located in a small remote village in southern India, Manjula’s childhood home housed a family of eight. As a little one, she was unaware of the daily burden to put food in the bellies of six children. She didn't understand the constant struggle to find shoes to fit growing feet. A one-room hut surrounded by her family was all she needed to sleep peacefully and dream about flying high enough to touch the stars at night and the clouds by day.
But as she grew, the painful reality of her circumstances began to surface. Her brothers were forced to drop out of school to provide food for the family. Her teenage sister was forced to marry very young, something families did to reduce the cost of the dowry, for one less mouth to feed, and for two less feet to fit. Manjula’s home became a place of instability and fear with questions like "Will we eat tomorrow? Will I be the next to marry?"
And then, at just 14, her home shattered and her flight path nose-dived. With the family facing a severe financial crisis, her relatives gathered to decide Manjula's fate. Just like her grandmother and aunt before her, she would be dedicated to the goddess as a jogini, an ancient practice of ritualized prostitution that still exists today even though it is illegal. By dedicating her, Manjula’s family believed they would be blessed by the gods and avoid paying a dowry for her future marriage. Sometimes, Joginis also receive small fees so Manjula would be contributing to the family income. As a Jogini, Manjula would become the property of her village to be used by any man, anywhere, any time for the rest of her life. Her wings were about to be clipped forever.
AND THEN YOU RESCUED MANJULA
You support the Jogini Freedom Fighter in Manjula's village who got wind of the impending dedication. With her mother’s permission, Manjula moved several hours away to our shelter where she no longer worried about her next meal or new shoes. She no longer feared being awakened in the middle of the night by her neighbor's husband or the drunk farmer down the road. She slept fitfully at first, but over time, peacefully as counselors and mentors gently worked the demons from her fears and prayed love into her soul.
Through the daily rhythms of morning chores, school, evening meals, and bedtime prayers, Manjula’s wings began to mend. School was hard for her at first. Yet as her heart healed, so did her mind. She eventually graduated from high school, earned her junior college degree and completed her teacher’s training.
YOU GAVE HER WINGS TO FLY
Manjula now lives in her very own home and teaches at one of our schools in northern India. She doesn't worry about food or clothing. She cherishes every moment in her own space: no bad dreams, no selfish men, just safety and security, hope and peace.
Because of you, Manjula has found her voice to empower other young women, to give them wings to fly. She wants a better life for people like her. And most of all, she wants the Jogini system ended forever.
WHEN YOU GIVE A GIRL WINGS TO FLY, SHE SOARS!
We continue to see good turn around stories of real life rescue that gives girls a solid foundation for their future. Our new 150-bed shelter is expected to be fully operational in early 2020. In addition to that shelter, we continue to offer 6 month sewing/tailoring classes all over India. Women are given their own sewing machine and a certificate of course completion. Not only are they able to sew for their families, they are able to earn extra income as well. And, they feel so good about themselves to have learned a skill that enables them to provide for themselves and their children.
Here's just one great Turn-Around Story:
Manjula's story reads like fiction, but it is real. I have not met her, but she is my sister. And, although she has suffered unimaginable horrors, her spirit embodies human dignity. Freedom. Hope. Here is her triumphant turn-around story.
MANJULA’S LIFE SHATTERED
At just 14, Manjula’s life shattered. Facing a financial crisis, her family decided she should be dedicated to a horrific life of ritualized prostitution. Manjula’s destiny was to become the property of her village to be used by any man, anywhere, any time for the rest of her life.
BUT A FREEDOM FIGHTER RESCUED HER
Thankfully, one of DFN’s local Freedom Fighters was able to stop her dedication and get Manjula to a safe place where she would no longer fear being awakened in the middle of the night by self-seeking men. In our shelter she learned to sleep peacefully as counselors gently worked the demons from her fears and prayed love into her soul.
SHE FOUGHT FOR HER FUTURE
Manjula refused to let her past determine her future. As her heart healed, so did Manjula’s mind. Through our network of schools, she graduated from high school, earned a college degree and completed teacher’s training.
TODAY, SHE THRIVES
As a teacher at one of our schools, Manjula uses her voice to empower other young women. She wants a better life for people like her. And most of all, she wants girls to grow up free from the risk of slavery and free to dream.
The turn-around stories of girls like Manjula is the very reason DFN exists. It's why we go to work each day, leave our families to travel to India, and determine every day that we will stop one more dedication, rescue one more young girl, extend the promise of dignity and freedom to people society casts aside.
That's what you do, too, with every donation you make and every social media post you share. Thank you for believing in DFN. But most importantly, thank you for giving girls like Manjula triumphant turn-around stories. Real life is always better than fiction!
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