Updated: Jul 17
"If the Corona virus doesn't kill me, starvation will..." -A victim in the red-light district in Kolkata, West Bengal.
Prime Minister Modi extended the lockdown, causing devastating impact among the poor. "Lockdown is only for the rich," says Catherine Raja, Freedom Firm's National Director. Only the wealthy and middle class have indoor plumbing and houses where isolation is possible. For the "other half," there simply is no shelter. With no way to earn money and no savings, millions cannot buy food. Since almost all red-light areas across the nation are shut down, Freedom Firm's staff are monitoring and responding to the urgent needs of victims and survivors. Most are hungry. Some are starving. Our team members reach out to their contacts in the red light area and network with other organizations to provide food and provisions for the girls.
Pooja Freedom Firm social worker, Anjana shares about Pooja, a rescued girl now living at home with her birth family, "When I called Pooja to ask about her health she said she is fine, but all the shops are closed in her village and they are not getting enough things to eat. Her family is a total of 15 members. No one is able to work because of the lock-down (the family was struggling to find work even before the Coronavirus hit). Pooja said whatever they brought home to eat gets finished in just one day. Pooja is learning how to adjust to a big family. She finds it difficult, but still, she is grateful and happy." Anjana has arranged for groceries to be delivered to Pooja and her family.
Distributing Provision Kits All five of Freedom Firm's teams in five major cities in India are working arm in arm with other NGOs and government schemes to make and deliver food kits. Each package consists of flour, rice, sugar, edible oil, tea powder, soap, dish detergent, and laundry soap. YWAM and Grace Mission are a couple of our partnering organizations.
Soni was rescued from a red light area in Varanasi in 2019. When our social worker spoke to her a few days ago, Soni said that the COVID19 situation in Varanasi was serious. She has a son who is asthmatic. The market is shut now and people are unable to purchase food. She shared that she has enough food for now, but she doesn't know how long it will last. HIV+, Soni used to go regularly to the hospital to get antiretroviral medication. Now with the curfew, she is unable to go to the hospital for her and her son’s medication. It's a serious thing for an HIV patient when an antibiotic cocktail of medication is suddenly stopped. The virus can mutate in just a few minutes, making it immune to the treatment. Our social worker is trying to connect Soni with a local NGO to see if they will deliver these urgently needed medicines. Meanwhile, we arranged for a shopkeeper to deliver groceries to Soni and her son.
During the Coronavirus lockdown, Freedom Firm is doing what we can to ease the suffering of victims, survivors, and their families. Thanks to the continued gifts of faithful donors, Freedom Firm continues to care for and serve our rescued girls during these unprecedented times.