When Mehak grows up, she wants to be a doctor. She wants to get an education and use what she learns to help save lives. It’s a noble dream, but it’s one that Mehak will not be able to pursue.
You see, Mehak lives in a community where little girls are not encouraged to follow their dreams. She’s 12 years old right now, and in just a few short years, she will be expected to follow a different path — one that is certainly not a dream come true. Without intervention, Mehak will be forced to follow in the footsteps of many women before her by joining the sex industry.
But today, on International Children’s Day, you can help rescue a girl in India or Thailand from a lifetime of abuse and degradation. Through your investment, a girl like Mehak will no longer have to accept a life of cultural slavery — instead, she will have the chance to simply be a child.
“I wish I could protect you”
When I was growing up, my mother said some form of these words to me more times than I can count. As a mother of two daughters, she was well aware of the dangers the world can hold for a young girl. Any time I traveled, she worried. Anytime my heart was broken, her heart broke, too.
That’s what parents do — they shield their children from the worst life has to offer and they help shoulder their child’s pain when suffering does come.
My mother couldn’t shield me from everything, but she could give me the tools to make my own way in the world. She could give me an education and teach me to believe that my dreams were worth following, worth trying. She could support me as I pursued different interests and chose different paths.
Most importantly, she taught me about Jesus’ love for me. My mother believed that the foundations of adulthood were laid when my sister and I were young, and she worked hard to ensure that foundation was strong.
Unfortunately, many parents are unable to do these things for their children. In Mehak’s case, her family is part of the Banchara community — a low-caste tribe in India that practices a centuries-old tradition called Nari Mata. According to this tradition, the oldest daughter in every family is responsible for paying for her brothers’ marriage dowries. With no education or job skills, she can only accomplish this by joining the sex industry.
This is what happened to Mehak’s mother. In order to provide for her family and pay for her brothers’ dowries, Mehak’s mother began to sell her body at the age of 13 — just a year older than Mehak is now.
As a girl growing up in this poor community, she had little access to education or to a supportive environment. So Mehak’s mother did what the women in her community do. And pretty soon, Mehak will have to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
But this isn’t the life Mehak’s mother wants for her daughter. After meeting a church planter, Mehak’s mother began to desire something different for her precious daughter. She wanted her to go to school, and she wanted her to be surrounded by supportive teachers and mentors. If Mehak dreamed of becoming a doctor, that’s what her mother wanted for her.
Like many parents in poor communities, Mehak’s mom wants to shelter her children from the pain and suffering that poverty can bring. In the Banchara community and in many parts of Thailand, that abuse generally comes when a girl is forced to choose a life as a sex worker. But there is so much more these parents want for their girls, and you have the power to help give them their freedom.
There is a quote that says, “We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”
The origins of this quote are debated, but the sentiment is true. We often talk about rescuing women from the sex trade — a very important issue and one that we are incredibly passionate about. But to truly see freedom in Thailand and among the Banchara, we must deal with the root of the problem — we must rescue the little girls before they are caught up in a life of cultural slavery.
Tan is just 4 years old and lives in a slum near Bangkok, Thailand. Her father is a motorbike messenger, and her mother is a housekeeper. They both work hard to provide for their daughter, but their jobs are inconsistent, and the pay is minimal.
Sometimes, there isn’t even enough food for Tan to eat. She is small for her age, and very sickly, making it difficult to attend school regularly. If she survives long enough to reach adulthood, it will be her job to help support her family. With few available jobs in the slums, she will likely follow the footsteps of so many women before her and find work in Bangkok’s red-light district.
But right now, Tan is still a little girl. She loves singing and dancing and making crafts. She’s excited about school and looking forward to what the future might hold. She hasn’t been broken and abused by a society of cultural slavery … and YOU can help keep her that way.
By sponsoring a girl in Thailand or India’s Banchara community, you help give her freedom. Your $35 monthly gift will help rescue that girl from the dangers of the sex industry by providing essentials like a safe place to live, medical care, healthy food, and a quality education.
You surround her with loving and supportive teachers and mentors, helping her through the trauma of living in a place where cultural slavery is the norm. Most importantly, you give her the chance to experience the love of Jesus — a love that changes everything.
This International Children’s Day, give a child the chance to simply be a child by investing in her future. You can give a girl like Mehak and Tan a new life.