Photo by GFA World
Lakhi had been warned of the coming destruction, but so many others had denied it. She had nowhere to go anyway if it did come. But that day had finally arrived. Now hundreds of police officers marched through the monsoon rains, clearing Lakhi and her neighbors from their homes and making way for the bulldozers. Carrying an infant in her arms, she joined the mass evacuation and pondered the question plaguing the other women: How would they care for their children now?
Prostitute Flees with Infant Daughter
There was talk going around for years of clearing out prostitutes, like Lakhi, from the neighborhood, but only recently did these rumors turn into a real crack-down on the red-light district.
The day before, the big news had come: At 7:30 a.m., bulldozers were coming to tear down all the huts involved in the sex trade. Lakhi had until then to leave.
Four buses waited to take sex workers to a mental asylum-turned-rehabilitation facility. If they refused, they could return to the lands they may have been trafficked from or be put in prison. Despite their lack of options, no one climbed aboard the buses, and Lakhi wasn't going to lead the way.
The next morning, as the walls of her home and business turned to rubble, she held her 1-month-old daughter close and ran. The journey began with thousands fleeing, but the crowd thinned out as former neighbors split off toward their homelands.
After traveling two miles through the rain, Lakhi saw a woman on the roadside who hadn't come from the carnage, and she had an idea.
Lakhi didn't know where she would get a job or how she would live, but she was certain of one thing right now: Her child could have a better life, if only this woman would say "yes." If only she would agree to buy Lakhi's daughter.
Daughter Sold to New Mother
As far as Naavarasi knew, there wasn't a protocol for handling requests that one buy another's child. The traveling woman was making an outlandish plea. Still, she did seem truly desperate, and what would become of the poor baby if Naavarasi denied her?
At the very least, Naavarasi knew the child would be safe in her family. And as the only girl in a house of three brothers, she would be well loved.
The women agreed on a price equivalent to $22—about a month's wages for some in the area—and Naavarasi took the infant home. She would call the baby Tamanna.
Illness Shakes Adoptive Family
For a while, Naavarasi and her family made a happy home for Tamanna. But when the girl was 3 years old, Naavarasi was overtaken by stomach issues that frequently caused her to vomit blood. And though her family belonged to a traditional religion, their rituals did nothing to heal the mother of four.
As a wage laborer, Naavarasi didn't earn much, but her children depended on all of it. If Naavarasi couldn't go to work, if she couldn't care for them, perhaps her sister would take them in—but her sister already had four children of her own.
It was a dark reality to grasp, but the future awaiting Tamanna and her brothers was just as uncertain as on that day by the roadside.
A Cook Offers Hope
When every course of action Naavarasi tried had failed, she was left with only one thing to do: talk with others about her problems. One of those other people happened to be Chahna.
Chahna, a cook at a local Bridge of Hope center, was familiar with families in need, and she had seen the difference hope could make. Chahna strengthened her friend Naavarasi with this hope.
Change must have been starting when Naavarasi heard God cared for her, because she joined her friend Chahna at church one morning. As Naavarasi listened to Chahna's pastor share, she felt the Lord calling her, and she decided to embrace His love.
Daughter Raised in Christ's Love
Over time, God healed Naavarasi of her illness, which enabled her to resume her position as family provider. Not only that, but she is raising her children to know of the God who saved their family.
Because of her adoptive mother's love, Tamanna, now 10 years old, has never known the pain she was rescued from as a baby or what she could have faced as a toddler. At age 5, she was enrolled in the local Bridge of Hope center—the very one where Chahna works.
As Bridge of Hope staff members watch Tamanna grow, they're encouraged to minister to more children of the red-light district. They help Tamanna and other children through education, daily meals, regular medical checkups and personalized care—and it's all done in Jesus' name.
You can bring tangible hope and help to these mothers and their children by linking your life with a Bridge of Hope child.
Originally published May 2013
Editor’s Note: When we first published this story, we mistakenly said that Tamanna was 1 year old when she was sold. We realized our mistake and have corrected the article to state that she was 1 month old at the time she was sold.
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.