It’s a scourge on modern society. Millions of children around the world are trafficked or trapped in sexual exploitation with little hope for freedom.
In India the problem is huge. Every year, tens of thousands girls from the poorest parts of the country are trafficked. They are coerced or tricked with false promises of good jobs, then sold into brothels, indentured servitude, or forced into child marriage.
Shiva (name changed) was 9 years old when she ran away from home to escape domestic violence and found herself sleeping at the railway station in Guntur. Shiva at significant risk of being collected from the railway station by brothel owners, being raped and forced into prostitution was thankfully rescued. She was one of the lucky ones. Less than 3 in every 10 children that goes missing in India every day return home.
Crippling poverty, caste discrimination, and a culture that does not value women are all part of the toxic mix that makes girls in rural parts of India easy targets for traffickers. For poor families living on the edge, a girl is an extra mouth to feed. If she can leave her home to earn money for the family, they may be too desperate to look closely at what that really means—the girls become slaves, their young lives cut short by suffering and despair. All too often, they disappear and no money ever comes back.
In Guntur, we met with the woman who saved Shiva and 23 other children, and provides them with love and shelter at her home.
This is Nagamani.
Nagamani is a 32 year old wife & mother.
If you saw Nagamani on the crowded streets of India, you’d never know the strength of her character & spirit. You probably won’t even notice her. But, Nagamani is a true leader.
As a passionate student & advocate of leadership, Here is what we learnt about Nagamani:
- Nagamani works 7 days a week.
- With NO PAY.
- She starts at 7:30am & goes home at 9:30pm everyday
- 3 years ago, she saw a young child sleeping on a train platform & decided to feed & educate him.
- Since then, she dedicated herself to rescuing abandoned children.
- Today she has 24 children in her care.
- She hasn’t had a holiday -EVER!
- Her husband is the sole income earner.
Unfortunately, Nagamani does not have the image of someone who will ever command influence, grace the cover of magazines/billboards or attract a following on Instagram.
But Nagamani has won a place in our hearts.
People like Nagamani give humanity continued hope & inspiration.
Her story deserves to be told, and she, and the children in her care deserves our help.