Mission: Emancipation

How much is a human life worth? How about five lives? Or 500,000?

Those questions drive the Mukti Training Program, a ministry in eastern India that fights the multi-armed problem of sex trafficking with an elegant tool: economic freedom.

Sewing and reaping

The founders of Mukti, a ministry within ReachGlobal’s Justice Initiatives, realize that the women most at risk for becoming or remaining prostitutes are those with the fewest ways to make money otherwise. Daily wages for rural women laborers in India average 34 to 43 rupees (76 to 96 cents) a day, but prostitutes routinely make 100 to 300 rupees ($2.25 to $7.75) per customer and average three or four customers per day.

Indian-woman-sewingThat’s why opening its first sewing and embroidery training program in the province of West Bengal in April was so important to the ministry. It gives the five women enrolled in the six-month program hope for supporting themselves with a traditional skill that is still valued in rural areas of India — allowing them to sell their work instead of themselves.

Naomi, one of program’s first five students, dreams of using her new skills to make petticoats and other garments in her home. She hopes to either sell the garments herself or fulfill orders from other shops and factories.

“I want to become a self-supported woman,” she says. “If God wants, I want to open a tailoring shop and involve others like me.” Having those skills can make that a reality for women in a place where there is steady demand for saris and handbags that are custom-embroidered.

Meena, another woman in the program, says that she can turn the training into a profession, take orders and earn money — something sorely lacking in the past.

“My situation was not good,” Meena says. “I always worried about how to bring up my sons. When I came to this training center, I learned how to make petticoats and different types of embroidery. I want to continue this work and teach someone this in the future.”

Caring for the wounded

In addition to vocational lessons in sewing and embroidery, trainees get lessons on the basics of health care for themselves and their children, money management, and their spiritual value as a person created and loved by God. Being valued and loved is a feeling many of them are not accustomed to.

“My husband did not take care of me,” Naomi says. “He tortured me physically and mentally. Many times I wanted to do suicide. Nobody was there with whom I could share my pain. But when I came here, I got a new life.

“Before, I did not know about Jesus,” she says. “I worshipped so many gods, but no one gave the response to my prayer. But after coming here, I am feeling good in my mind. I am getting peace. Jesus has given me so many answers to my prayers. I feel Jesus’ love in my heart.”

Naomi adds that her husband has noticed the changes in her and is starting to change himself. “I want my son and my husband also to come to Jesus,” she says.

Sponsoring freedom

To keep the program solvent, Mukti’s organizers are looking for sponsors to pay for the women’s training — $60 a month for six months. That monthly support covers:

  • Transportation costs for trainees and volunteers
  • Materials used in training
  • Snacks and the cost of stove fuel used to make tea
  • Graduation expenses

The sponsorship would help get more women into a program that aims to make a larger and larger dent in a growing problem: the thousands of Bengali girls being coerced out of their homes in West Bengal and Bangladesh with false marriage proposals or promises of good-paying jobs in the cities. Many are kidnapped. Too often, those girls are drugged, driven to a brothel and chained to a bed in a whorehouse.

An estimated 500,000 minor girls are working as prostitutes across India, according to Freedom Firm and other organizations working to stop sex trafficking there.

“We’ve got to do something to stop the flow of young girls into dens of prostitution,” says Sandy, a ReachGlobal staff member who has worked in India for 15 years. “We have to do something to address the flow of women out of West Bengal, not just rescuing them one by one afterwards.”

What you can do

Support training for women

Support a woman in the Mukti Training Program today. For $60 a month, you can fund a woman’s vocational training and her future. Please type Mukti Training progam in the “Comments” box and email Justice Initiatives to let them know of your sponsorship.

Pray

  • Pray for the women in the Mukti program, that they will be able to start their own profitable businesses with their new skills.
  • Pray that many more women will be able to get the training soon.

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