At-risk and exploited
In the small village of Akujura in South Asia, at-risk women and girls are oppressed by brick factory owners, farmers, and truck drivers passing through the area.
Many of these women and children are exploited by sex and labor traffickers. And they are no safer within their homes. Families are meant to be a haven, but many of these victims are often physically beaten, sold, over-worked and abused. Deeply wounded, they need a place where friends can offer help…and hope.
One young woman’s path to hope
Aruna’s* mother died when she was 8 years old. Even though her father remarried, she was rejected by her stepmother, as is common in this part of the world. Aruna found herself cast aside and unwanted.
Her situation worsened four years later when her father died. Aruna’s only option at this point was to move in with her uncle who subsequently forced her to work in the construction industry. With no meaningful education or way out, she found herself digging ditches and hauling bricks for the next six years. Aruna was extremely vulnerable, and working in this harsh world led to more abuse.
Our team met Aruna when she was 18 and provided a safe haven for her where she could live in safety from abuse and become a student at the Selah Center. In this vocational center, she was mentored by loving individuals committed to teaching valuable skills such as sewing and the basics of business.
When Aruna learned how to sew, the trajectory of her life changed dramatically. Rather than being forced to continue working in “harsh” and vulnerable labor situations, she now has the skills and the confidence to start her own business or even work at a local sewing shop.
Aruna also has seen the love of Jesus in the teacher who mentors young women like herself. And she has also seen the love of Jesus in the cook who hands her a meal every day. Being welcomed into the vocational center has allowed Aruna to trade the life of hauling bricks for a life which causes her to break out into a smile as she anticipates her future.
* Individual’s name has been changed
She’s not the only one
For over a year, eleven young women like Aruna have found a safe haven in the Selah Center. Each has come from trafficking/forced labor situations where their education was so disrupted that their chances of employment were slim. In this vocational school, they have learned valuable skills like sewing and beadwork and life skills like basic business concepts. More and more young women are able to escape the cycle of vulnerability. Transformation in the village is beginning to take hold.