Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Walk Through the City in India

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Envision a bustling street in India, teeming with life. The smells are unusual, some pleasant, some challenging. Jostling foot traffic mixes with vehicles of all shapes and sizes—bicycles, rumbling diesel trucks, motorcycles with whole families aboard, even ox carts. Along the road, open sided stalls and vendors sell fruit and sizzling food in endless variety. Cows and dogs wander aimlessly. People. Noise. Confusion.

Looking for some quiet, we turn down a narrow, dirty side street. A haze of smoke and dust obscures our view. A few steps along, we glimpse a twenty-year-old woman speaking quietly with a man more than twice her age. Her clothing and demeanor seem out of place. This is not her father or brother, it is a “customer.” We watch as they disappear into a room down the alley.

Does your heart sink, or do you get angry when you realize you’ve just witnessed a prostitute—a Commercial Sex Worker (CSW)—strike a deal with a customer?

Moments later, this young woman pushes a small girl, eight years old, out of the dingy space the man and woman had just entered. It seems to be her daughter.It is “inconvenient” for her to be at home just now, so the child wanders aimlessly along the little street. We follow her. Her clothes are ragged. She must amuse herself while “mom is working.”

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, the reason behind Bright Hope’s Know.Act.Tell. awareness campaign. We want you to Know the plight of the children of sex workers:

  1. CSWs and their children are shunned by their communities, despite the flourishing market for their services.
  2. Families of CSWs are trapped in the cycle of poverty, with little access to adequate education.
  3. Child labor is on the rise in India, and on average, children get less than five years of schooling.

The sons and daughters of women plying the sex trade grow up with little hope. As children of CSWs grow into their teenage years, the girls too often follow in their mother’s footsteps, while the boys drift into bonded labor, drug use, and sometimes even become pimps. Another generation begins a degrading life of scorn and shame.

This generational cycle of prostitution and enslavement must be broken.

Bright Hope is excited to report that we now have an Indian church partner working to reach the children of CSWs. This body of believers has cared for the poor in the slums of their city for more than 40 years, offering job training, nutrition education, and basic medical care. Now they are aiming to educate children of trafficked CSWs to help prevent the cycle of trafficking from continuing.

The church can tell these unloved children that Jesus loves and cares for them. With the help of our allies, these children can enter mainstream society with dignity so they can experience equality and have opportunities for the future.

Targeting two specific areas* where sex workers are concentrated, this program will offer tutoring for 100-120 children between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. when the sex trade is typically busiest. Through the efforts, these kids will be coached in math, science, and language. Fun extra-curricular activities and music lessons, implemented through vacation Bible school type outreaches will introduce the Hope of Jesus to these children.

In launching a program to touch these little lives, we hope to engage their mothers as well. Sadly those enslaved to sex work often become hardened; they accept their situation, demeaned into believing there is no hope for anything else. This new program is an amazing opportunity for this Indian church to tangibly demonstrate the love of Christ to these women. As women trapped in this abusive existence see their children helped, they may dare to hope that life has more to offer than just survival.

The total cost of this CSW Child Education project is $22,000 for the entire year. With 100 children helped, that’s a little less than $20 per child per month—a rather meager amount to change a life.

Would you like to give to help these children and support our other anti-human trafficking initiatives?

Support Our
Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative

Don’t forget to learn about human trafficking in every country Bright Hope works on the Know.Act.Tell. page.

*For the safety of our Christian brothers and sisters in India, the exact location of this program is confidential.