Free Forever Campaign
The struggle for freedom does not end at the moment at rescue. Many survivors were trafficked due to extreme poverty and lack of job opportunities. They will always be vulnerable if these issues are not addressed . Made By Survivors gives women and girls the tools to remain free forever from slavery and exploitation.
To Stay Safe and Free, Rescued Women and Children Need:
Safe living conditions
Basic care such as food, water, clothing
Opportunities to express & process trauma
Knowledge of Human Rights
The Free Forever Campaign is a project of Made by Survivors, in partnership with Women's Interlink Foundation, India, to build a shelter for 125 girls in Jalpaiguri, India.
Jalpaiguri is a remote provincial city in northwest of India, near Darjeeling. There are very few resources there to combat trafficking, and many young girls are in urgent need of safe, permanent housing.
Made By Survivors has committed to raise the funds to build a shelter in Jalpaiguri, with our partner Women's Interlink Foundation. The cost of building the first floor of the shelter will be $100,000. We have so far raised $50,000 towards the construction. so we now need $50,000 to construct the first floor (6000 square feet) of the new shelter building. Land has been purchased and construction will begin this October, after the rainy season.
Jalpaiguri is a high trafficking region near the borders of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. The tea industry, which was once the main source of income in the area, has become unstable, causing severe poverty and conditions ripe for trafficking.This region has no other anti-trafficking services available, and the new center will provide a safety net for the whole region - a place where anyone who has been trafficked, or is in danger in the area can come for help.
Along with safe housing, Made By Survivors will provide job training and employment for the older girls, as well as school sponsorships, so we can all share in the joy of watching the girls grow up happy, healthy and educated.
As always, love and respect will be the foundation of every program we offer at the new center. Love is the only thing strong enough to overcome the extreme trauma of our girls' pasts.
100% of donations go straight to the project. Join us in building a heaven on earth where survivors can heal and reach their enormous potential!
Meet one of the Survivors who will benefit from this project:
The Girl from Bangladesh, by New York Times Bestselling Author Kathleen McGowan
The newest arrival to the shelter stands in the corner, quietly. She appears to be in her early to mid-teens. Her eyes are huge and filled with terror. She is in a safe place, one filled with love and compassion for all she has endured – but has not yet accepted this as her reality. She is fresh from her ordeal, and all she knows is mistrust and trauma. It does not seem possible that there will ever be a world where there is safety for her. To imagine this is beyond her current capacity, for to begin the process of imagining safety is dangerous. It makes one weak. And the risks are too great. Because what if she allows herself that one little moment of imagining, of letting down the guard, of believing it is possible that she may actually be in a place of real safety – and then she turns out to be wrong? The idea of enduring that brand of psychological torture, is beyond bearing ever again. It is easier to believe that one can never again know real safety or trust than to risk having such hope dashed yet again. All of this is apparent on her achingly beautiful face as she watches the younger girls giggle and display their sports trophies and crayon drawings to us. She stands apart from all of them.
Aloka Mitra, the founder and chairman of our partner organization in India, Women's Interlink Foundation, has done this work for 40 years. She recognizes the stages of trauma that a rescued girl goes through. Aloka calls the girl over and begins to speak with her softly. She asks the girl a question in her native Bengali. The girl says nothing in reply but the unshed tears behind her eyes come to the surface. They are never far away. Aloka coaxes her to speak, stroking her hair in a maternal way, reassuring her she is safe. She tells the girl that we are here to ensure that no one hurts her again. She asks her a few more questions in Bengali, and the girls slender shoulders begin to shake as the tears break through completely.
The Girl from Bangladesh, we shall call her Anika, is 17 but looks younger. It is as if her face has maintained the innocence she possessed prior to the terrible time before was sold. And she is tiny from malnutrition. She came from a very poor area of Dhaka, and she just wanted to help her mother. She was offered a job by a local man, an opportunity to make money to help her mother and little sister. It would require her to leave Bangladesh for West Bengal, but the money she could make to save her family would be worth it. This is perhaps the most common of the trafficker's tricks: the promise of a job, and of some relief from terrible poverty. The girls who are at risk for this tactic are the most vulnerable members of our human family: too young, too poor, too compassionate, too desperate to help their mothers and younger siblings in any way possible. It works every time. Anika is just one of the countless girls who have lost their freedom due to their desperation to help their families.
Anika was trafficked to India and imprisoned in a brothel where she endured abuse that is unimaginable to most of us in the civilized world. These girls are trapped in windowless, concrete cells where they are forced to service up to 20 clients per day. Escape is impossible, and refusal to cooperate is met with terrifying violence – and threats against the family back home. If you try to escape we will kill your mother and do the same to your baby sister. Their ordeal is the very definition of cruelty.
But it is not the re-telling of her story that makes Anika shake with her tears. It is the kindness that she is receiving from Aloka. It is the realization in this moment that someone is offering her a future which does not include violence, abuse and terror. I do not speak Bengali, but Aloka later translates for me. Yet even before hearing the story in English, it is told on the girl's face and through her body language.
Aloka: You need to start thinking about what trade you would like to learn. We will educate you, and help you find something that you really love to do.
Anika: No, you won't. Why would you – a stranger in India – spend money to give a poor and worthless girl like me an education?
Aloka: Because you are a perfect and beautiful young woman, a valued member of the human race. And you have much to offer.
Anika: How can you say that when I am so ruined?
Aloka: You are not ruined. People hurt you because you were poor and they were cruel and greedy. Nothing that has happened to you is your fault. We can return you to Dhaka to be with your mother and sister if that is what you want.
At the mention of returning to Bangladesh, Anika looks panic stricken. She then confesses that she is 5 months pregnant. By the time she understood her condition, it was too late to do anything about it. Since she arrived at the shelter, she has received medical care for herself and the baby. But she cannot go back to Bangladesh pregnant as she would be ostracized and never accepted back into her community. Anika says that she prefers to stay here and have the baby, give it up for adoption, and get an education.
Aloka: If you have a trade, whether you return to Bangladesh or If you remain here, you will be valuable to your community as an empowered woman who can earn money. Now, what do you think you would like to do? You can go to beautician school, or learn clerical skills, or you can enter our jewelry and design program. Do any of these things interest you?
Anika, just cries as the shadows returns to her face. The last person who spoke to her about having a future sold her into sexual slavery. It is almost too much to consider that this time could be different.
But this time it is different, and it is different because of YOU. Because you care enough to make a contribution to this shelter, we can expand our operations in this region of rural India where there is such a great need for shelter space. Girls who are rescued from slavery face heavy odds of being trafficked again because there is not enough shelter space to keep them safe. We can change that. We will change that. 100% of the money raised in this campaign is going directly to building the new shelter where Anika and up to 125 of her sisters will be cared for, educated and given vocational training. Thank you for being a part of our global family. Thank you for caring about our sisters and daughters in India.