There were supposed to be eight women. Eight women celebrating new lives and new opportunities.
Just the day before the graduation ceremony, Rahma* returned to the brothel. Her husband had left her with debts and her landlord threw her out of her home. The brothel was what she knew. Our offers for loans and temporary housing didn’t seem as reliable as the life she’d known for so long.
Still there were seven. The morning was filled with preparations: marketing, decorating, cooking. Music pounded in the background and the women couldn’t help but break into dance as they did their work. After we all ate together, everyone donned crisp white and red sari’s. Ghaliya* modeled hers proudly. “It’s our new life celebration, isn’t it?” she said. “So we wear white to show holiness: a fresh mind, a fresh life.” The pride on her face shone as she continued, “The red shows love. My husband bought me this sari for 500 taka. He is happy I’m in this programme.”
Each woman lit her candle as Shati, Basha’s staff member leading this training programme, read their commitment to leave their past behind and to step into new opportunities. They each signed their agreement, several haltingly writing the signature as they are learning to write for the first time.
The programme ended with songs, dances, and a heart-rending enactment of a common scenario of abuse and vulnerability that leads to girls being sold to the brothel.
We are sad for Rahma*. Heartbroken that she feels she has no other option. We will continue to remind her our doors are open. But in the meantime, we will celebrate these seven brave women who are taking this brave bold step towards a “fresh mind” and a “fresh life.”
“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.” – Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
“Brokenness to redemption, where mercy and grace kiss both sides of our face.
Brokenness where we are split open.
Redemption where God knits us back together.
Mercy when we don’t get the punishment we do deserve.
Grace when we get the lavish love gifts we don’t deserve.
So here we are.” - Lysa TerKeurst, Unflued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions