Updated: Jul 17, 2020
We are deeply grieved that Neetu, the girl we wrote about in December 2019 who was struggling to recover from 3rd-degree burns, passed away on February 10th. When our social workers left her mid-December, Neetu was out of the most critical stage and on the road to recovery. Rescued from forced prostitution in 2015, Neetu lived in her home town with her parents for the last five years. Last year (we don’t know exactly when), Neetu had been heating milk for her son on an open stove when flames set her nylon skirt ablaze. Impoverished and uneducated her parents perhaps did not understand how serious her injuries were, and did not take her to a hospital. During the following months, her wounds became severely infected. When the smell became unbearable, her family abandoned her at the local temple, hoping she would be miraculously healed. When our social workers learned of her condition, they took her to a hospital in a nearby town. The doctor urged her family to leave her in the hospital for longer, to ensure her care, but her family refused and took her home. Our social workers arranged for home care, and her dressings were cleaned and changed regularly. One of Neetu’s legs started to heal. In one of our last calls with her, Neetu asked for a wheelchair. We made arrangements for the wheelchair to be delivered, hoping Neetu would soon be up and around. On February 10th when our social workers called her family to check on her we learned that she had succumbed to her injuries and passed away. Her family home was far from sterile, and ultimately her parent’s care was insufficient to stop the infection that eventually took her life. She leaves behind a fourteen-month-old son. Our social workers will try to move Neetu’s son to protective care, as we do not believe Neetu’s parents are capable of caring for the child. In her short life, Neetu faced unimaginable pain and suffering. The social workers who were deeply committed to Neetu and tried so hard to keep her alive are grieving her loss. Those of us who have heard, read her story, seen her picture, and said a prayer for her, grieve also. She will not be forgotten. We know her name and will choose to remember. Her pain and suffering have ended, once and for all. May she rest in peace.