HER STORY MATTERS
Our programs are best explained through the stories of the women we serve.
A story of resilience
BACKGROUND & CHALLENGES: Her Future Coalition provides education and shelter to some of the world’s most vulnerable girls. Anika, age 13, was rescued two years ago from a roadside hotel in Bengal, India, where she and her mother washed dishes and were trafficked for sexual exploitation. When she first came to our shelter, Anika did not speak and we did not know if this was due to trauma, a speech disability, or simply because she spoke a tribal language.
According to a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the vast majority of all human trafficking victims – some 71 per cent – are women and girls and one third are children. In addition to causing severe trauma, trafficking interrupts a girl’s education and cuts off her opportunities for the future. Thus the cycle of poverty and exploitation continues from generation to generation.
HER FUTURE’S IMPACT: Her Future provides shelter and high quality education to over 750 survivors like Anika every year. At our shelter, Anika received remedial education and intensive tutoring until she was able to join a mainstream school. Despite never having attended school before, she quickly made up for lost time and is fiercely committed to her studies. She also received counseling and health care. Today, Anika is able to speak in three languages! She chats and laughs with her friends like any other young girl. She is studying in the 6th grade and wants to be a teacher.
A story of healing
BACKGROUND & CHALLENGES: Kiya from Nepal speaks five languages. Her parents sent her to a monastery school because members of her extended family were involved in human trafficking. Her parents were too poor to provide for her and feared for her safety. Regardless, when Kiya was in her early teens, she was drugged, kidnapped and trafficked from the school in Nepal to a brothel in Mumbai by her aunt who is the brothel owner. As it turned out, this aunt was the very person Kiya’s parents were trying to protect her from.
In the brothels, the girls lived and served clients in tiny rooms just large enough for a single mattress. Most rooms do not have doors, but were separated by fabric curtains. The girls slept during much of the day. When they awoke, they were given their one meal for the day. Once a week they were allowed to shower. In the afternoon, they dressed and put on make-up in preparation for the arrival of customers. Some were sent out on the streets to entice men to come in. Others lined up in a hall or lobby so that customers could choose from fifteen or twenty girls. Girls were forced to service ten or more customers a night in the brothel.
HER FUTURE’S IMPACT: After she was rescued, Kiya spent several years recovering at a shelter supported by Her Future in Mumbai, India. She went back to school and also participated in a vocational training project in jewelry that we offered at the shelter. Kiya was both a star student and an outstanding jewelry artist. She also excelled in athletics, especially karate, and placed high in several statewide karate competitions. Despite the pain of her situation and feeling betrayed by her family, Kiya distinguished herself as a leader at the shelter and in the jewelry program. She is now living independently and studying fashion design in college.
A story of hope
BACKGROUND & CHALLENGES: Her Future Coalition provides education and shelter to survivors of gender violence and high risk girls. Shalaija, age 9, lives near one of our Red Light Resource Center in Kolkata, India. Shalaija and her sister and mother do not have a regular place to stay. They are what is called ‘pavement dwellers’ in the red light area. Shalaija has learned to always lay face down when she sleeps, and to cover her body with a sheet to disguise the fact that she is a girl. Until this year, she had never been to school.
According to the Internal Labour Organization, 98% percent of brothel based sex workers are illiterate, which is unsurprising given the reality that 49% are trafficked before age 16. 90% of girls growing up in red light areas are sexually assaulted by the age of 8. Less than 10% of girls born into brothels finish high school.
HER FUTURE’S IMPACT: Her Future provides shelter and high quality education to over 750 survivors like Shalaija every year. At our Red Light Resource Center in her community, Shalaija now has a safe place to stay and to study when her mother is working. She has been able to go to school for the first time through our school sponsorship program.
A story of empowerment
BACKGROUND & CHALLENGES: Her Future Coalition provides education and shelter to some of the world’s most vulnerable girls. Payel, age 16, is one of six children, born into a desperately poor family in a Kolkata slum community. Neither of her parents have any education. Her father is a rickshaw puller and the family lives on less than a dollar a day. Girls in her community are rarely sent to school, and are generally forced into marriage by the age of 15.
According to UNICEF, a lost opportunity for education is not only harmful for girls, but has wide-reaching repercussions for their future children and the entire community. Educating girls creates many positive outcomes for economic development and poverty reduction by improving a girl’s income-earning potential and socio-economic status. Less than 10% of girls in India’s urban slums finish high school, and less than 40% complete primary school. 97% of females in Payel’s community are victims of family violence.
HER FUTURE’S IMPACT: Her Future has sponsored Payel’s education since 2015. She also attends art and sports classes, and receives tutoring, nutrition, counseling and loving care at our slum community school. Payel plans to become a doctor and is a top ranking student in her grade in science and math.