This is Rhea.
Currently, she is working from home like so many others across the world. However, for women like her, home hasn’t always been a safe place.
When she was just nine years old, Rhea was forced into a life of sex slavery. Her family was struggling for money to feed themselves and found themselves highly in debt. They resorted to an ancient practice where young girls are dedicated at the temple to a life of ritualized prostitution. They believed this would bring them blessings from the temple gods and solve their financial worries forever. This was just the beginning of Rhea’s heartache. For years, she found herself as the property of the men in her village who regularly came into her home throughout the night to abuse her.
This is when hope stepped in.
Our freedom fighters found Rhea two years ago and have been walking the journey of rescue and recovery with her ever since. She left her life of slavery behind and has been living in our shelter where she has found a safe place to heal and rest and rediscover her strength. Rhea is surrounded by a community of strong women to support and protect her, and this last year she has been learning to sew.
Now she gives COVID-19 relief.
This past month, as the pandemic reached India, Rhea wanted to do something to share this bold new hope inside her to others. Using the skills learned in our economic empowerment program, Rhea and the other women she lives with are sewing masks to protect frontline workers and others serving in the community! She is using the gift she was given to bless those who are risking themselves to help the vulnerable. She is passing along dignity and freedom, just as someone once did to rescue her.
And that makes her one of our favorite heroes.
Stories are real, all names and photos have been changed for protection, and are representative.