It is a blessing to partner with you as we make a difference in the lives of others. The days seem to roll by ever so quickly and I can’t believe that another month has passed. May was certainly a very busy month for our team in Kotdwara.
One of the things I love about our projects in Kotdwara, is that as we work towards some ‘big picture’ plans and dreams, we also impact some very needy lives and their specific individual circumstances. Through our 6 school centres, each week we educate and feed 220 children, and in doing this we care for their families and communities as well. As we ‘do life’ with these people, we share their stories and our lives are certainly all the richer because of this. www.kotdwarahelp is definitely a two-way relationship.
Over 5 months of sheer hell for Pooja
Pooja is 9 years old and she attends our riverside slum school.
This past month Pooja was rescued by the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of Kotdwara. Pooja lives in the slums of Kotdwara with her father, mother and 4 brothers. Because her father was not well, Pooja was sent to live at her uncle’s house. This is where she really came into trouble. We are told that her uncle would allegedly perform various superstitious and taboo practices on this poor little girl. Another woman who was friends with the uncle lured Pooja and took her to another town called Haridwar about 50 kms away. Pooja was to be sold into the sex industry and the woman and the uncle stood to make money from this transaction. After spending 5 months in Haridwar, hidden away and subjected to the most disgraceful of circumstances, the Kotdwara Anti-Human Trafficking Police Unit were able to locate and rescue Pooja. On her return to Kotdwara, Project Help was asked to provide the support and counselling that this little girl desperately needed. Pooja has now been reunited with her family.
Pooja and her family receive counselling from the Project Help team, and she has also been lavished with a number of little surprises like a box of chocolates, ice-cream, a new dress and some toys. We were told that she had never been given a box of chocolates before and she was thoroughly delighted. Pooja comes to our slum school each day where she experiences the love and care from her classmates and especially from her teacher Kiran.
Pooja needs ongoing help and support. The impact of this trauma has been significant and much psychological distress has been caused. What is incredible however, is this little girl’s smile. We are praying that her resilience is strong and that the intervention provided was swift enough to make a lasting difference.
To our Australian supporters …your generous donations make all of this possible. Kotdwarahelp supports the local police and our friends Amit and Daisy are highly respected and called upon whenever a social worker is needed. During our last visit to Kotdwara, we met with the police unit to talk about how we can support them in their work. They asked for the following help. That we;
- create an anti-trafficking curriculum and workbook for students
- create an anti-trafficking awareness video to show to students in the schools schools and for parents when they speak in villages
- purchase a data-projector for the police to use for their presentations
- Doug has been asked to provide some training to the police and other local NGOs to support them in the delivery of their programs. He anticipates doing this in September or perhaps next April. They have also expressed their thanks and appreciation of the perspective and encouragement we provide.
Sadly, not all children in India are as fortunate as Pooja. It is estimated that 80 000 children go missing in India every year. It has hard not to be discouraged and to think that this is a hopeless and overwhelming issue. I wonder if we can ever make a difference?
It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened to Pooja and where her life might have ended up if the police had not found her. Pooja’s smile shows that one child rescued and returned to her family is evidence that our combined efforts and very small sacrifices, do make a significant difference.
One little girl’s life has been restored. Thank you for your part in all of this.