Shashi's* life started out better than most in India, where those who live below the poverty line make up 80% of the total population (that's over a billion people). Her father was a postman and earned a decent salary.
Life was fine for Shashi until her mother died. Her father remarried, and her stepmother took a strong disliking to her. She plotted with Shashi's uncle to send her away and make a little money on the side. Shashi was sold to a brothel when she was 18 years old and was trafficked to Mumbai.
Shashi was rescued from that brothel one year later in 2007 and was placed in a government home for two years. She came to Freedom Firm's Aftercare home in 2009. She was silent and withdrawn. However, within weeks, she began to change in positive ways. She responded to the love and care offered by the staff and volunteers. She chose a new name: Stuthi, which means 'praise' in Hindi.
In a small school run by Freedom Firm, she learned slowly, but never gave up. She was slow and steady, uncomplicated, and calm. The trust and love that shines from Shashi's eyes are as simple, profound, and beautiful as a child's. And, like a child, she showed stubbornness at times but displayed a gentle affection for those she loved. In July 2011, she returned home to Bangalore to live with her father, who hopes to find a suitable man for her to marry.