Jalpaiguri Shelter

In 2014 we partnered with Women's Interlink Foundation to construct a 15,000 shelter for 125 survivors in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, India.  

Jalpaiguri is a hot spot for human trafficking, child labor, and other severe human rights violations. The reasons for this are the region’s proximity to many borders (India, Nepal, Bangladesh), the scarcity of shelters and services (ours was the first in the area for trafficking survivors), and the lack of economic alternatives for women. Tea farming has been the primary industry for a century, and that industry is now in crisis, leading to desperate situations for the most vulnerable: women and girls.

40 of the girls currently at the home are younger children who have been rescued from child labor, trafficking, or forced begging, or were born into brothel communities. 35 are young women 16-25 who have been rescued from brothel trafficking.

The girls’ stories are heartbreaking.  Jyonti was raped by an uncle, then sent to work as a domestic laborer, where she was abused by members of the family. She ran away to a neighboring state in search of a better job, and from there was trafficked to a brothel.   Asha’s family in Bihar forced her into marriage to an adult man when she was just 11.   Nilisha was rescued with her mother from a roadside hotel, where she and mother were trafficked as cleaners and for sexual abuse.  Kali and Meenu were rescued from the railway station, where they survived by begging and sweeping trains, sleeping by day near the tracks. 

    Despite their horrendous backgrounds, the girls are recovering beautifully and thriving at the shelter home. The younger kids are all in school, or if rescued very recently, are receiving remedial education and counseling to prepare them for school.

      The older girls are struggling more. It is best for them to stay at the shelter for a year or more because they are so vulnerable to re-trafficking in the few years after being rescued. Families often reject them, blaming them for the abuse. They are stigmatized by society. Some drift back into prostitution of their own accord, because their self-esteem has been so damaged that they see no other option, because they are traumatized, because their mother or sisters are still trapped in prostitution, or because they see no other options for supporting themselves.

      These young women will be motivated to stay longer at the shelter if there are high quality vocational training and employment options for them. We didn't initially have space for these activities at the shelter so in the spring of 2016 we began raising funds to add a third floor and to create vocational training and employment programs.

      Thanks to many committed donors and friends, we raised the $55,000 needed for construction this summer, and construction will begin at the end of the monsoon season (September or October).  

      Special Thanks to Our Major Donors to Both the Original Building Campaign and the Expansion Campaign:

      Diamond Sponsors:

      • Foster Family Foundation
      • Schmidt Family
      • Todd Patkin
      • Diane Beale and Team Denver
      • Durga Tree International
      • Sula Anagnostou
      • Jeanette Pavini
      • Crystal and Mike Freed
      • Kerri and Sean McKeever
      • Tiffany Weston
      • Kathy J.
      • Friends and Family of Naved Khan
      • Steven Fuchs
      • Vincent and Candace Kasperick
      • LUSH Cosmetics Foundation
       Gold Sponsors:
      • Renee Kam-Yee Kwok
      • Kerry Nelson
      • Phileos Foundation
      • Helena Geng
      • Gregory Cafua
      • Rodman Ford Sales
      • Husein and Leanne Cumber
      • Arun and Rekha Ginde
      • Chelsa Schaefer
      • Lisa Schaertl
      • Dawn Moran
      • Tom and Linda Calabrese
      • Katherine Collins
      • Jeanne Jeandheur
      • Connie Feutz and Paul Brown
      • Prince in NY Music Group
      • Carol Stodola

       Silver Sponsors:

      • Elizabeth Swanson
      • Fabiaschi Family
      • The Simpson Family
      • Hakmat Saoud
      • Randall Clark
      • Matthew F. Carlucci Insurance Agency
      • Sali and Omar Jimenez
      • Rebecca and Jonathan Bennett
      • Jeffrey Woolf
      • Margaret and Simon Michael
      • Berit Martensson
      • Ray Umashankar
      • April Schmidt
      • Pamela Sampel

       and to all the compassionate people who contributed to this campaign!