The Trickle-Down Effect of the Jogini System | Kumaramma’s Story

Meet Kumaramma.

At 25, she is a loving, hard-working daughter, mother and widow. Sadly, her husband passed away two years ago due to a fatal illness. But she has persevered and is raising her three-year-old daughter as a single mother.

After his death, Kumaramma began working in a  factory to provide for her family. She lives with her mother and daughter in a small hut.

Unlike her mother, Kumaramma has escaped the life of a jogini (ritual form of sex slavery) in her village. However, growing up she faced much prejudice from her peers and others in the community because her mother was a jogini.

As an adult with a steady job and a child she loves, she put the jogini stigma behind her.

Or so she thought.

There are many different ways the jogini system in India has affected women over the centuries — not all of it directly.

As she was working in the factory one day, an iron plate fell from the roof and landed on Kumaramma’s leg. She was badly injured and bleeding profusely. Her friends rushed her to the local clinic for treatment. After a few days, she realized the injury was not healing and the wound was getting more and more painful.

Subsequent visits to the doctor didn’t help either.

So she decided to try Hindu acts of worship, known as Pujas, for her healing. The belief in her village was that these Pujas performed by a temple priest will heal any ailment. They are also quite expensive. But, Kumaramma was desperate for her leg to heal so she could return to work. She took the advice of her relatives and went to many different temples for multiple Pujas.

None of these ceremonies healed her leg.

Kumaramma’s situation was becoming quite bleak. Without her job, she was unable to provide for her mother and daughter. Not only that, but the pain in her leg was becoming unbearable.

A DFN health worker was visiting Kumaramma’s village and learned of her situation. After a long talk with our health worker, Kumaramma agreed to visit a government hospital with our staff. The doctor was very attentive and asked for a complete background history of her wound and life, in addition to treating the leg.

He asked Kumaramma to take an HIV test.

Our staff supported Kumaramma through this as she was at first reluctant to take the test. Unfortunately, the result came back as positive.

Most likely in shock or denial, Kumaramma refused to take the medication. Our health workers continued to stay by her side and give her the support she needed to understand the seriousness of this illness and the benefits the medications would bring about.

As a result, she began taking the medication. Three months later and after regular follow up visits from our staff, Kumaramma is feeling much better and her wound finally healed!

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She has successfully returned to work and has expressed her gratitude for the support she received during this challenging time.

“If you did not come in time, I may not be in this world right now,” she said.

Kumaramma’s daughter was also tested and thankfully, her results came back negative. Although Kumaramma herself was not a part of the centuries-old jogini system, she suffered the trickle-down affects of sex slavery survivor.

There are many more women out there suffering a similar fate who need our help. Will you join us in our work to help them?

Free A Woman Today

A Prescription of Love and Support After a Lifetime of Abuse

When an individual visits the doctor for an ailment or injury, they are often treated on the spot or given a prescription for ongoing treatment.

These visits and prescriptions cost money. What doesn’t cost money is the love and support someone receives from family or friends after returning home, or while they are healing.

This type of treatment cannot be assigned a monetary value — it’s priceless.

Sadly, for 45-year-old Lagamavva in India, love is in short supply in her life but ailments are not.

Lagamavva first began visiting a DFN medical clinic earlier this year. She suffers from bad arthritis in her knees and needs nutritional supplements to remain healthy.

She quickly became a regular at the clinic, coming in every two weeks.

However, Lagamavva’s current health ailments pale in comparison to the lifetime of abuse and mental trauma she has suffered.

When Lagamavva was 12-years-old, she was dedicated as a temple prostitute. Her parents were struggling with their own health and finances. They believed if she was dedicated, the goddess Yellama would be appeased and their problems would be solved.

After spending two years being used by the men in her village, Lagamavva decided to run away to Mumbai, in search of a better life.

She arrived penniless and homeless.

A handsome man quickly befriended her and invited her to stay in his house. Desperate for a home, she agreed to go with him. She soon realized this invitation was not at all what it seemed.

She learned that this place was a brothel run by local gang leaders. She and three other girls suffered much in this home. Many men came and went, often armed with large knives.

Lagamavva was devastated, feeling she had just returned to the same abuse she was running from. But it was too late, the men would not let her leave. She was guarded day and night for many years.

It was a horrific time in her life.

Finally after eight years of sexual abuse, beatings and forced abortions, she decided she could no longer take it. She braved a risky escape by sawing through the grating in her window, climbed down two floors and crept away in the dark.

Sadly, she returned home to parents who no longer accepted her and a village that ostracized her.

That night she slept under a tree and, left in this vulnerable state, she was again assaulted by men.

It was after that night that Lagamavva knew that she needed to take care of herself and become an independent woman. Thus far, no one in her life had shown her any respect, care or love.

She built a hut made from sticks and tarpaulin. Her bathroom is the open field and her a kitchen a small fire outside her front door. It wasn’t much, but it was hers.

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Over the years, Lagamavva became pregnant and had four daughters. She loved her daughters and enrolled them in the government school, encouraging them to study hard.

As they grew older, her daughters began to reject her after finding out about her life as a prostitute.

Lagamavva now lives with her youngest daughter who has a job to help provide income, as she is unable to work due to her crippling knee pain.

With each visit to the medical clinic, DFN health workers continually encourage Lagamavva and let her know she is loved and cared for. Her life matters. She matters.

Join us as we continue praying and caring for women like Lagamavva, who often need more than simple medical treatment — a regular dose of tender loving care.

Health program provides care, reaches hundreds

In some areas of India, the centuries-old “jogini” system is still in practice even though it is against the law. Young girls and women are sexually exploited as prostitutes — and many times — abused.

Our goal is to completely eradicate the system in the next 10 years. In the meantime, it is of utmost importance to provide as much help to these vulnerable women as possible.

That’s where the compassion and generosity of friends like you matter.

Healthcare for the at-risk

With your help, DFN community health workers are able to implement a health program aimed at helping at-risk women in rural South India.

Teaching the basics

These community health workers help hundreds of women through medical camps, home visits and community education activities.

Many of these visits play a major role in our work of eliminating this continued sexual exploitation.

The health education sessions offer trainings on a variety of issues — including, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, hygiene and preventive health tips.

One crucial part of the program is the home visit.

It is during the home visit that community health workers are able to spend time with joginis to learn more about the issues they face. In many instances, home visits are the most effective way to hear their stories which provide insights to help tailor our programs.

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Extending life and inspiring hope

The team also keeps track of births and deaths in the community. Knowing these numbers reveal insight into the reality of village life, specifically that of the jogini community.

We have also created and introduced new facets of the program, such as the “buddy system.” This system enables longer-serving health workers to partner with newly trained personnel to share their experience and knowledge. They also encourage them in their work so that more and more women may be helped.

This is the kind of work that you are supporting in India. You are helping us share crucial information, education and care to vulnerable young girls and women in need…and we thank you.

 

Consider helping more women
in need and give today!

 

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2016 Impact Report

MatthewWeb

Matthew Cork, Executive Director, DFN US
Download complete report.

It was hot and sticky in South India that day. My jet lag was really kicking in, too. Groggy and tired, I peeled myself out of the van, dodged a puddle or two of who-knows-what, and headed down the alley.

Then, I heard it.  “A, B, C, D, E, F, G.” The sweet voices of 3-and-4-year old children singing the alphabet. I smiled. Here, in the middle of a slum, on a block where 40,000 people are crammed into one-room dwellings, is a shool. Your school. I breathed a prayer of thanks, opened the gate, and went inside.

Children poured out of classrooms:. “Hello, sir. How are you today?” “Thank you for visiting.” “Thank you for praying for us.” Smiles. Hugs. Handshakes and high fives for everyone. Each face so precious. So loved by God.

This, my friends, is what you do. You teach. You provide opportunity. Most of all, you love. And I just want to say thanks.

I could tell you about all the great things we did together in 2016, how much money was raised and where it went. Those things are important, vital even, for healthy organizations. That’s why I’m sharing this blog post with you.

But the most important thing—the one thing that really matters—is that each dollar given represents investment in a life. Every child in a school, every woman in a training center, every life damaged by abuse but now being restored, has incredible potential to change the world for good. And that’s an investment worth making.

I am so grateful for you. As we enter 2017, DFN’s 15th anniversary year, I have never been more excited about the future. Thanks, my friends, for making this journey with us!

Financials

Download complete report.

Give Now

Speak Up By Sharing

Faces of India: DFN’s Top 5 Photos of 2016

Speak up this week by sharing our Top 5 photos of 2016 on Facebook or Twitter or email. These photos were taken on our most recent trip to India in November, and we hope you enjoy these glimpses into the lives into some of the people we serve.

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This lovely young woman was married at age 14. She’s now 19 with two children and lives in a slum area near Hyderabad. Her family receives healthcare services through the health worker in her community. What beautiful eyes and bright smile!


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The intense gaze of this boy as he holds his baby sister in front of their home shows the depth of his dignity and strength. His parents work for daily wages and he he cares for his sister during the day. At this time he is unable to go to school but many children in his community attend a Good Shepherd School nearby.

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Watch out for this little guy! He attends Lower Kindergarten in a Good Shepherd School and just couldn’t stay focused on the morning assembly.

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A group of children in a registered slum enjoy a special treat while they pose for the camera. Most of their parents work in the rock quarry next to the slum. These children dream of going to school.

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Best friends share giggles and smiles during a break in their day at a Good Shepherd School. The joy is evident on their faces!

The DFN family thanks you for sharing these snapshots of life in India!

Other ways you can speak up for the Dalits this holiday season can be found here.

 

 

Speak Up By Gifting

You Can Speak Up for Dalits Simply by Giving a Gift!

If you are anything like us, you are immersed in Christmas preparation these days. There are trees to decorate, lights to hang, goodies to bake, and gifts to buy for those you love. This year, why not incorporate the Dalits of India into your Christmas gift-giving plans? It’s an easy way to “speak up” for Dalits this season!

DFN’s holiday catalog (new this year) offers options for every budget and need, beginning at just $5. You can purchase a month of education for a Dalit child, a desk and chair for a school, nutritional supplementation, and you can get a woman who has been impacted by the sex trade on her road to recovery!

 See Holiday Catalog

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 See Holiday Catalog

We have products, too! In fact, the store has something for nearly everyone on your list. And many items are on sale!

Below are a few sale items to choose from, but you can browse the entire store here.

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Small elephants are only $5 apiece. These adorable elephants are lovingly handcrafted by ladies in our vocational training centers. Silk and cotton elephants are available, but quantities are very limited, so act fast. (We also have medium-size elephants here.)

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Tote bags/Sport bags: all items are now 50% off. These bags are a great way to “carry the Dalit story!”

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T-shirts: save up to 30% on the latest styles.

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Candles and Soaps handmade by Dalit people: all items are on sale.

So many options, so much good to be done. Thanks for your support of the Dalits of India! Every purchase makes a difference, and we appreciate you.

Please note the last day to order a product in time for Christmas delivery is December 16. The last day to order a gift donation from the holiday catalog is December 21. Act now to avoid the last minute rush.

P.S. If you are purchasing a gift for someone, we’ll help you out with a card. Just indicate your preferences in the cart when you check out. If you have questions, feel free to email or give us a call at 757-233-9110.

How Else Can I Speak Up?

Tell people about this! Share the opportunity on Facebook and Twitter! Share this blog post using the links at the bottom of this page. See other ways to speak up here.

If you have any questions about the way this works, please e-mail us at info@dalitnetwork.org. We’ll answer your question right away!

The Justice Conference 2015

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We are so thrilled to be in Chicago this weekend with The Justice Conference 2015.

What an amazing opportunity to learn from some of the most passionate and brilliant minds, the movers and shakers of the cause of justice in our world today.  We will also be standing side by side with many other sponsors and exhibitors, pastors and churches, colleges and NGO’s as we share our vision and specific work with Dalit people for the cause of freedom and justice.

What a thrill to be in the room with so many world changers! 

If you happen to be coming to the conference, please stop by our table at Booth 11! We have lots of freebies and a fun giveaway this weekend. Come say hi!

Check out this link to see if  The Justice Conference is simulcasting in a city or church near you! It is well worth your time if you can get there.

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You can follow us online with the #RescueIsReal and #Justice15 hashtags as we will be posting throughout the conference.