"I’m going to start a new life", said one of the trainees in the recent Ruhamah Designs training program at Mundhwa Home in Mumbai. The response of the girls was overwhelming after we introduced ourselves as staff from Ruhamah Designs, a business that employs and trains survivors of sex trafficking in jewelry designs. Victims of trafficking are sent to state run shelter homes after their rescue but are seldom given an opportunity to pursue another vocation during their stay in the home. This makes them vulnerable when they are released to their parents or enter mainstream society.
There were ten girls who attended the training; all aged between twenty to thirty years of age, all signifying so much potential. Their response to our invitation to be trained was exciting. Hardly did a day in training pass when we saw a lack in enthusiasm. I was thrilled. There was so much we could do and many ways in which we could impact the lives of these girls.
Over the course of the training, which lasted a month, the girls slowly gained confidence in their new work. Aarti* an artisan at Ruhamah Designs, also a survivor of sex trafficking, shared her inspiring story of how she is able to save money and support her family. Aarti not only encouraged the girls with her story of real life outside the government remand home, but also passed on her expertise in jewelry making to the girls. Survivors training other survivors!
The girls began production in July and are now creating earrings and are trained in life skills that will help them as they transition into society.
For the girls at Mundhwa it is a beginning, a fresh start. Ruhamah is a light that shines over the darkness in their lives. It is a beginning for me too. A time when I have the opportunity to invest in the lives of women, who were cheated, never given a chance to excel and to train them in what will be their second lives. An opportunity that I cannot miss.
[Rani* is Ruhamah’s workshop manager in Pune and devotes time and energy training girls in jewelry making and life skills]
*Names changed to protect identity