India/Nepal (MNN) — One couples’ decision to save four girls from human trafficking 12 years ago has transformed into changed lives for 37 girls, and a hub for community transformation.
Rody Rodeheaver of International Needs USA (I.N. Network) describes the area the couple ministers in– a location just below Nepal.
“There is a large amount of poverty there– it’s the most impoverished district in India. But also, because of that, there is a huge amount of human trafficking.”
Those trafficked are usually young girls– at an increasingly younger age.
“This young couple that had graduated from Bible school started a ministry there with four young girls who they were able to take legal custody of, and a group home was established. And now, 12 years later, those four girls are now 37 girls.”
Not all of these girls are victims of human trafficking. Many have needed to be rescued from dangerous homes of abuse and poverty. The home is called Sano Diyo.
They are as young as preschoolers and as old as high school graduates.
“It’s one of the most remarkable stories of a young couple investing their lives in changing, protecting, rescuing, some of these girls,” Rodeheaver says.
Even with all of the success the ministry has had, there is still a lot of work to do.
“The vision now is to expand the tent. We have been starting a child sponsorship program in the villages around our group home there. Because, one of the things that we know is that if you can get children in school and if you can help children break the chains of poverty, then you can begin to protect them from the child traffickers.”
Right now there are over 100 children from the surrounding area who are sponsored.
Rodeheaver says, “We’re getting children in those villages– the poorest of the poor– and we’re helping pay their school fees, we’re helping them get an education, they get a meal, and they are followed up with our staff who teach them how to avoid traffickers, who teach them sanitation, who teach them how to eat healthily.”
Their lives, and the outlook of their lives, is completely changed. And Rodeheaver says, “It’s all because there are people who are sponsoring children there and helping to keep those girls out of harm’s way, out of the trafficking that goes on. We know that the age range for trafficking has gone from 14-16 year olds. Now it’s in the area of 10 year olds to 14 year olds.”
When these girls are taken from dangerous situations, they are able to give back to the community in unique ways.
For the kids in the village, they become a sort of mentor– a prayer partner. The girls can share their story with the kids and give them hope. They become friends.
While they receive kindness in this way, the children are also given an education.
It can be difficult to understand the implications of that.
Rodeheaver was told a story about a single mom in the area whose husband had left her for another woman.
She was left to care for her four children, working in a rock quarry to try and provide for them. Not even being able to buy enough food, there was no way the woman was able to send her children to school. This meant her children had less of a chance of breaking free from the poverty they were born into.
When ministry partners of I.N. Network approached her to ask if they could enroll her children in school, she was overwhelmed.
“She just wept because she had never dreamed that her children would be able and have an opportunity to go to school,” Rodeheaver says.
“So it’s making a difference. And we want to start on the prevention side of child trafficking and help keep these young girls out of trafficking and help them break the chains of poverty and help them get an education.”
And even more important, these children are encountering an example of Christ’s love. They are introduced to the Gospel. Staff members meet with the sponsored children individually. When the children visit the group home to spend time with the rescued girls, they can get involved with Bible clubs and hear the stories of the girls as they’ve been transformed by Christ. The Gospel is shared with the girls while they’re there.
I.N. is also hoping to connect the children with local Chrisitan churches to continue sharing that message and follow up with them.
If you’d like to support this ministry, you can give a gift by following this link. Or, you can call the office at this number (616) 209-5420 to talk to child sponsor specialists.
$32 a month is all it takes to change a child’s future right now.