Last Monday morning, three young children were taken from our children’s home back to Kamathipura, the red light district from which they had been rescued. They were taken back to say a final goodbye to their mother, Preeti, who had died the previous night. Our staff surrounded the children; the staff was just as broken as the children. They had pursued Preeti for over a decade trying to convince her to leave the red light districts. She had refused to be rescued. Her own tragedy had begun at the age of 13.
Fading Glimpses of Hope
A few months before she died she had finally come to our women’s rehabilitation center. Hopes of redemption disappeared as it became evident to all, including Preeti, that she would not stay. She was not willing to do what needed to be done to break dangerous addictions and habits in her life. Two months later, she left Ashagram of her own accord, acknowledging the healing that was possible and her inability to receive it. Ultimately, no woman can be forced to stay at our center. It is her choice. Preeti chose to walk away; she walked away from a safe and clean haven to return to sleep under a tarp on the filthy streets of Kamathipura.
The Early Morning Call
Even though she had left, members of our outreach team who work in the lanes of Kamathipura continued to seek her out. It was a member of that team, Shankar, who received the call at 6:30 one morning that Preeti had been found unconscious. He immediately left his home, arrived on her street, and took her in the ambulance to the government hospital. He had done this for her many times before. He remembers times she had cursed him even as he worked to find a spot for her in hospitals that have no respect for women like her. Knowing those curses came from a place of deep hurt, he never said anything back. This would be the last time BTC would have to work to have her admitted. Preeti took her final breath the following evening.
After the viewing, one of our ambulances drove away with the body. Another van drove away in the opposite direction with Preeti’s children back to the children’s home. The oldest cried; the middle one, who had lived with her mother the longest, was expressionless; the youngest seemed confused. Many mothers die in the streets of Kamapithura, and often their children are left to fend for themselves.
Our tendency is to categorize every event as a success or a failure; in dealing with the deep tragedies of humanity, such categorization is not really possible. All we can do is serve as faithfully as we know how and leave the categorization to eternity.
Written by Jooly Phillip.
Starting off 2015 with a swing;
Many thanks to a team of 4 friends of Set Beautiful Free (who are excellent in their own professional careers, but far from professionals when it comes to swinging a golf club). They put together a great golf tournament at the exclusive St. David’s Golf Club. Over 100 registered and had a great day of golf, while simultaneously raising funds to help with the education of the children at our centers.
A team of dedicated women helped us organize an amazing event in Virginia. This was a powerful and unique night unlike any other we have seen – the event was held in a barn, complete with turkeys outside and an antique bathtub inside! The 150 guests in attendance were able to listen to personal stories of restoration and responded with great generosity.
A recent friend to the organization hosted a dinner in Princeton, NJ. She brought 40 of her closest friends along to hear about our work for the first time. We had an informative evening with an engaging Q&A session in the end. These new friends donated generously to help us continue the growth of our education program.