*Names and locations have been changed for the protection of the women and children.
Although very poor, Ella’s family had a small home in their Moldovan village. As one of the oldest of 11 children, at age 15 Ella needed to work to help provide for her family. One young man told her of opportunities in Moscow. She didn’t want to go to Russia, but one day he demanded she go with him, forcing her into a car along with her close friend. She was told to keep quiet as they crossed borders. He sold her in Moscow and when she screamed she was a virgin, they laughed at her, knowing she’d bring better money.
Ella was forced to sleep on the forest floor during winter days and taken to outlying roads by night to prostitute herself. Beatings and drugs were a daily occurrence. Twice she ran away to the police, but they simply brought her back to her traffickers. A third time she and her friend called an aunt working in Russia. Finally, they were able to escape their horror.
She came to our partner’s aftercare home totally broken; sure that she no longer had any future. Day by day, Ella began to experience more hope and healing. She even had the opportunity to stand and testify against her trafficker. Her relationships with family, broken during the tragedy, began to be restored. Ella is now studying social work at the local university and is teaching fellow students about trafficking by sharing her story. She wants to work in the aftercare home in Moldova when she completes her degree.
Meena’s mother was trafficked from Orissa, India, 25 years ago. Meena was born in the brothel and grew up in the horrific environment of the red light district. The highlight of her day was visiting an afterschool program where she was given a good meal and help with her studies.
When Meena was 13, her mother became HIV positive. Meena shared with a mentor at the afterschool program that her mother wanted to start selling Meena in order for their family to survive. This mentor spoke with Meena’s mother and convinced her that she should not sell her daughter. Not only would the mentor find financial help for Meena’s school, but she would also assist Meena’s mother with the medical treatment she needed for HIV.
Today Meena is graduating high school and has dreams of becoming a teacher. Her mother has moved out of the district into an aftercare home where she receives regular medical treatments.
Pam’s mother passed away soon after she was born. When her father got remarried, her stepmother refused to keep her, so she was brought to her grandmother’s place. Pam, a beautiful little girl, now lived in the middle of the red light district. When she was 13, many of her friends were already working on the line. Pam prayed this would not be her fate, but knew her grandmother could not afford to keep sending her to school since she had stopped working on the line herself.
One day, Pam was invited by her friend to visit a vocational center on the edge of the district. The people there offered her a job making handbags and jewelry. She began to work at the vocational center five mornings each week. Because of this income, she was able to go to school and support herself and her grandmother. Today, Pam owns her own business and lives with her husband and three children out of the district.