On November 2, a team from St. Andrew’s left for India to work alongside girls rescued from sex trafficking. Here is more of their journey…In Newport Beach, most little girls get to grow up safe, protected, and able to dream about what they want be when they grow up. By the nature of opportunities afforded to us, growing up in the United States is remarkably different from most of the girls growing up in India.
The girls we got to know and spend time with during this trip hold a common thread of growing up too quickly. Innocence and dignity were taken from them early in their lives, leaving each to endure a living nightmare that no human being should have to face.
Our team spent the bulk of our time with over 50 young women who have been rescued and now live in a safe, protected, and dignified environment. While they are physically “free,” the hope and prayer is now for their emotional and spiritual freedom. Each day our team took the girls through a variety of dream workshops. The curriculum developed by our ministry partner, Finding Freedom, aims to empower and strengthen young women who have been rescued from the sex trade. Each team member was assigned a group of girls to journey with.The first session involved creating a dream book, where the girls were given pictures, craft supplies, and prompts to help them cast vision on their future. The giggles and excitement on the faces of the girls as they learned to dream and create was heartwarming. At the end, many of the girls were eager to share what they had made. The other sessions included understanding emotions and non-verbal communication, affirmations, and listening for a new name. By the final day, the St. Andrew’s team members had developed such sweet connections with their groups that the girls came alive by the love, hope, and nurturing afforded to them.
During one session, a girl named Padma was clearly struggling with some of the activities. The team member went over and just held her, giving her a kiss on her forehead. The next day, the girl reflected back saying that was the first time she had experienced love and healthy affection in her life. It is nothing short of a privilege to watch this kind of restoration take place and for hope to be redeemed! What a great reminder of the power that comes through love.
Our team also spent time with the house moms who work with the girls. As you might imagine, it is an exhausting and neverending responsibility. We are grateful for the deep love and commitment that each of them has to create a family for the ten girls in their care. The Finding Freedom sessions we did with them include a focus on personality styles, conflict resolution, shame and grief, and forgiveness and patience.
In between sessions, we put on a fun skit for members of the children’s home. They giggled and hugged, gave high-fives, and shook hands. Their exuberance for life was contagious.
Goodbyes are always tearful. The bonds made between our team and each person will no doubt leave an indelible mark on each of our lives going forward!
After spending most of the week with our new friends, our team flew to Delhi. The goal was to meet with those who work in the trenches with individuals still enslaved. We heard stories of heartbreak and rescue. We then entered a red light area – a sharp and overwhelming juxtaposition to the hope-filled and restorative place we had just been. While we went in the light of day, darkness was palpable.
Learning more about the realities for many women in India and experiencing the depravity so closely gave our team much to process. We were able to do so together over a shared meal with our friends who work for this cause. The rest of our processing was done the following day with one another. Our team took a 90-minute train ride to Agra and spent the bulk of the day reflecting back on what we felt, saw, and experienced. It’s always beautiful to hear how each person was impacted by the various elements of the trip.
On our final day, we began by taking a sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal. We then returned to the hotel to eat and rest before beginning a very long journey back home.
Our team thanks each person who helped support, encourage, and pray for us! We held you with us in our hearts.
Join us December 9 in Grace Chapel to hear more from the team and see footage of the trip! Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.