At Her Future, we were faced with new challenges this year, like when India suddenly went into a strict lockdown and many of our girls and their families were without any food for months. Or when our schools and centers had to close (most of our girls have no computers or wifi in their homes). Or when months of lockdown and isolation brought up trauma for survivors, leading to severe anxiety and depression.
Through these challenges, and working together to solve them, we are proud to say that our women, girls and team have gotten Even Stronger
Sonali - Doing the Hard Stuff: Sonali grew up participating in HFC programs, as a teenager in a Kolkata Shelter Home. After training as a goldsmith in our jewelry program, and earning a college degree in Sociology, she was recently promoted to Associate Program Manager of our jewelry center. Then COVID hit, and Sonali had to learn to manage, mentor, counsel and support the jewelry trainees remotely. Like all Kolkata residents, she also had to struggle to get food, water and electricity during the lockdown.
“Through this crisis, I have gained patience and tolerance, and learned better management skills,’ says Sonali. ‘I have learned to give proper attention to the hard parts of my job, difficult people and things I don’t like, but which need to be done. Problems only get worse if you avoid them! I’ve also learned to focus on the things that I can control, and to let go of the things I can’t."
A.K. - Writing a Book: A.K. was trafficked at age 12 from a rural village in Nepal to a brothel in Kolkata. After she was rescued, she had the dream of going back to her village and opening a school there to provide options other than trafficking and child marriage to the next generation of girls. HFC sponsors her for college. While in college, she is working as a teacher for survivors and high risk children, at the same organization that helped her when she returned from India. During the COVID lockdown, A.K. gave birth to her first child. It was difficult to care for a new baby without help from family or friends, difficult to teach remotely (many of her students do not have computers or wifi in their homes) and frustrating to have her own college education interrupted. A.K. made the best of the situation by using the quarantine time to write a book about her trafficking experience, and to find and buy land to build her school! HFC is excited to partner on this new project - The Spring School. Stay tuned for more information on the book, ‘Standing in the Way’ and the school.
Paromita - Saving the Day with Counseling: Our partnerships with local agencies on the ground in India and Nepal have always been a critical part of our work. During this past year, our partnerships have deepened, and become even more important. During the lockdown, our friend and partners at South Kolkata Hamari Muskan were concerned that our survivors might be triggered by being locked down and isolated, and this could cause mental health problems. Paromita, Hamari Muskan’s counselor, stepped up to help us, providing virtual counseling to all the girls in our jewelry center. It was a life-saver!
Dianna - Becoming More Resilient: Dianna, our Vocational Training Program Manager, says,
“I”m feeling more resilient. I can handle much more than I thought, and so much of what happens is not up to me. I’m spending more time being prepared, which enables me to calmly go with the flow”
Sujata - Reconnecting with People: Sujata was rescued in Mumbai, and we started working with her at a shelter there. When she was sent home to Kolkata, we were able to bring her into our vocational training program and she has become an accomplished goldsmith. During the COVID lockdowns, Sujata found and contacted several of the girls who had been in our program with her in Mumbai, and reconnected them with each other and with us. So grateful!
Nafiza - Learning Patience: Nafiza, our India Country Director, says,
“Through this experience, I got more patience, and better at listening, especially on the phone.”
Priyanka - Triumphing in Education: Priyanka’s mother, who was in prostitution and had severe addiction issues, died when Priyanka was 12. Priyanka now lives in the red light area with her older sister. Despite the fact that schools have been closed since March and our Red Light Resource Center has been closed most of that time due to quarantine, Priyanka managed to pass the very competitive Class 10 Board exams, with a high score! Throughout the year, she has worked with her therapist over the phone to address trauma and build resilience. Priyanka is an excellent photographer, and dreams of becoming a wildlife photographer after college.
“I’ve come through so much already,” says Priyanka. “I refuse to let anything - including this pandemic - get in the way of my dreams."
The months ahead will almost certainly bring more public health issues, instability, school closures and a bruised economy.
Like you, we are going to have to use all of our creativity and resilience to overcome the challenges ahead. We have made the commitment to stand by these girls through every step of their journey to freedom and independence, and we will stand by that commitment, no matter what comes.
Will you stand with us, and with our girls?
Your donation dollars will go further than ever before, and the need has never been greater. We need to raise $80,000 this holiday season in order to maintain life-saving, life-changing programs serving over 1000 girls.
To help us reach our goal, a Brooklyn family foundation is matching donations up to $20,000.
Thank you for walking alongside us, as we together become Even Stronger!
Did you know?
According to a recent UN Policy Brief "All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good. This is a universal crisis and, for some children, the impact will be lifelong.
Moreover, the harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging for children in the poorest countries, and in the poorest neighborhoods, and for those in already disadvantaged or vulnerable situations. All of this is affecting children in multiple ways:
> Falling into poverty: An estimated 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis this year.
> Exacerbating the learning crisis: 188 countries (including India and Nepal) have imposed countrywide school closures. The potential losses that may accrue in learning for today’s young generation, and for the development of their human capital, are hard to fathom. Before this crisis, almost one third of the world’s young people were already digitally excluded.
> Threats to child survival and health: Economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020 from malnutrition. The risks to child mental health and well being are also considerable.
> Risks for child safety: Lockdowns and shelter in place measures come with heightened risk of children witnessing or suffering violence and abuse. Children in living in unsanitary and crowded conditions are also at considerable risk.
Her Future Coalition, (formally T.E.N. Charities) EIN# 37-1497985 is a Massachusetts non-profit corporation, (501c3 federal tax exempt), and your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.