The face of the Freedom Firm office in Ooty, Tamil Nadu is changing. At one time the Ooty office was the percolating hub of multiple programs including a residential aftercare home for rescued girls, the nucleus of Ruhamah Designs, a business that employed girls, and Leg Up, a therapeutic horse program that helped meet their emotional needs. Today the office has morphed into primarily an administrative hub to meet the needs of a growing organization with 4 regional offices and work in a total of 8 states.
In 2017 we closed our production center in Ooty with the strategy of reaching far more girls by concentrating our efforts in large cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. This meant that the girls in Ooty relocated to new areas and jobs. The girls who participated in Leg Up over the years moved on.
At the same time, the primary partner of our Leg Up program, which brought the disabled children each week, bowed to political pressure and stopped participating in our program.
Without children and young women, Leg Up, the Saturday therapy program, was no longer necessary.
The Malsteads, who founded the program, still had 3 horses and dreams of developing horse therapy camps in the future. However, recently all three horses tragically died of unrelated causes.
For the last two years, the Malsteads have had ongoing legal battles to regain the right to live in India without harassment. Without riders, horses, or a leader, the writing was on the wall.
Leg Up, the inspiration for the documentary Horse and Rider: A Journey to Freedom, and catalyst for change in the lives of many rescued girls and disabled children over the last 11 years has come to an end. We are so grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who participated over the years, making the program a reality. We are thankful for all of you who supported through notes of encouragement, prayers, and finances.
Saturday mornings at the Malsteads were times of great joy and learning, a time to play with horses, to grow in confidence, and to practice gentleness and practical love. We celebrate the years of goodness and beauty that Leg Up brought for so many. We celebrate the children. We celebrate the young women. We celebrate students, Freedom Firm volunteers and staff, community helpers, and teams from the US, and the Malstead's four children, who were the backbone of the therapy days over all the years. We pray that whatever was done to the “least of these” was done to the Lord.