A Story of Rescue & Redemption
In the Spring of 2013 a Gpartners team traveled to India to teach women how to start their own Sewing Micro-Businesses. Their weeks were filled with many incredible moments of ministry and being ministered too. Stephanie shares with us a moment of her own. Names have been changed for protection. This story represents thousands of women living in India.
Meet Lalitha. When I first talked with Lalitha, I got a "clean" version of her story. It was only after I shared some of my own trials in life and after we got some time alone did she share her whole story. She said that she had never told a single soul what she was telling me. She gave us permission to share her story to make people aware of what is going on in the lives of so many other women and children in India.
Her father died when she was seven, the same day her younger brother was born. She doesn't know, but thinks he had heart trouble and died before a doctor could arrive. She has seven siblings. Lalitha is 23 years old and expecting her first child in a few months. Her mother used to sell mangoes and leaves and various things according to the season. Lalitha never got to attend school because her family could not afford the minimal fees required to buy supplies.
After her father died, someone took her away to work in their home. She was ten years old. She said the lady used to beat her and the husband and older son sexually abused her. She said, "There was no one to take care of me. No one looked at me with respect. There was no one to love me." Her owners gave her things to eat that they were throwing away. They used to wake her up at 4am and if she was unable to wake up, they would pull her hair and beat her. Her legs were damaged with cuts and bruises and boils. She spent the whole day working, cleaning, cooking. She slept on the floor near the staircase. She was in constant fear and unable to sleep a single night. She couldn't even bathe without the son or father watching her. She faced torture everyday, was constantly afraid and did not want to live. She remembers crying, "I want to go home," but there was no one to hear her cries for help. Once she tried to hang herself and another time she jumped into a well. Even after her attempted suicide, her employers' attitude was the same.
After 3 years of enduring unspeakable abuse, a compassionate God-fearing neighbor, who learned of her plight, helped her run away to another person's home. Her owners reported her to the police and told them that she'd eloped with a boy. She told the police that her owners were beating her up, so the police told her owners to return her to her mother. Unfortunately, instead of obeying the police orders immediately, the owners took her to their home and locked her in a room for a week before finally returning her to her mother. She said that they also "wrote bad things about her" on paper and gave the paper to her uncle who spread the rumors around the village. She said after that, people looked at her with "bad intentions" and as if she had done something very wrong. She was a child at the time, could not read, and never knew what was written about her.
When Lalitha was finally returned to her village, she went into her home to find that it was empty. Nothing was inside and her mother and siblings were no where to be found. She lived for a month in the house alone until someone sent her sister to check on her. Three of her siblings then came to live with Lalitha in the abandoned house. They lived there alone for a year with Lalitha taking care of all of them. She said she worked and earned enough to feed them, but it was not enough and they remained hungry.
After a year, Lalitha traveled to Delhi to find work and her siblings went to live with their uncle. Lalitha later learned that after she left, her aunt and uncle sent her younger sister somewhere and she has never been seen again. When Lalitha went to try to find out what happened and where her sister was, her uncle said that some people came and took her. Lalitha reported the kidnappers (child traffickers) to the police, however, they denied ever having seen little 14 year old girl.
Lalitha learned that her mother passed away while Lalitha was living in Delhi working as a housemaid. She later married and learned of God's love. She has a powerful story about how God answered her prayer to be able to learn how to read, so that she could read more about God, however I'll save that story for another time.
Stephanie heard many of the same type of stories with the women she spoke with. For most of the ladies the team worked with these last weeks, this was the first time they have ever left their village. Most of them have never attended school, work in the fields all day, live in a one-room hut with a dirt floor and cannot read or write. They were eager to learn how to use the sewing machine, as it has the potential to earn money for their household. Please pray for the difficult lives of women living in India. And that we may together bring a lasting hope to these women.