Nine year-old Chanti* was desperate to go to school. But her parents needed money, and they made her work as a cleaner in the home of a rich couple in nearby Kalyan.
Unfortunately it was not a safe place for this young girl. Whenever his wife was out, the man in the house would take advantage of her. Desperately unhappy, she begged her parents not to send her back, but they needed money to pay the rent, so every day, back she went, never sure what would be in store for her.
Chanti knew it could be different. Her friend in the slum was attending Global Care’s children’s centre, learning to read and write, and being supported at home and at school. Our centres support low caste children from the slums of Patripul, mainly Dalits, many of whom would not be in school at all without the input and support of our partners.
One day Chanti took matters into her own hands, and ran away from the house where she was cleaning and came to Global Care’s centre. When our partners found out Chanti was forbidden to go to school, and she disclosed what was happening to her at work, immediately they went to visit her family.
Chanti never had to go back to work, and she was allowed to go to school. With extra support from the staff at the Global Care centre, she is making good progress. She will take a long time to come to terms with what has happened to her but with the right support and care we hope and pray she will once again be able to enjoy appropriate childhood experiences..
I heard Chanti’s story during my recent trip to India, where I was able to visit one of the centres we support in Patripul, near Kalyan. Sadly, her story is not uncommon, and although the community has now been made aware of the risk that this rich and powerful family pose to young girls, discussion has been taking place between the staff about how to better protect the girls from predators.
Recently the director of the project, Simon George, was at a church in Mumbai speaking about the work, and a couple of members came up to him afterwards to ask how they could help. One was a very experienced social worker who offered to come to the centre and spend time talking to the girls about how they could keep safe. We hope that the first visit will take place in May
Discussing with Simon, the director of the centre, how much this would cost, he told me, ‘nothing’. He said “I believe in giving people the privilege of being of help.”
We at Global Care are privileged to be partners in this very important project, and are so encouraged that others within the Christian community in India feel the same.
CEO John White
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of children