It was devastating news. We almost lost her. It happened when she was about to be transferred into our care. One of our staff members was completing the paperwork for the transfer of legal guardianship at the office of the Children’s Welfare Committee (CWC) (the Indian government organization that connects trafficked girls with New Horizons House), when he was informed that she had escaped from CWC custody. She was only 14 years old, and now she was back on the streets. Local authorities began searching for her, and prayers were offered up to God on our end.
Fast forward to several weeks later. Mike & Diane Graves along with my wife, Dawn, and I arrive in India. One week prior to our arrival seven girls had been transferred to New Horizons House (NHH). We were excited as we anticipated meeting our very first group of girls. After a 17-hour journey from Denver to Delhi, we grabbed about four hours sleep in a hotel and then made our way back to the airport to catch a flight to another city in the southeastern region of India. We were met there by staff from NHH and immediately began a 5-hour journey by car to the town where we would be staying. As we traveled through rural areas of rice fields, palm trees, and thatched-roof houses, we wondered what it would be like to meet the girls face-to-face. Would they be reluctant to communicate with us after the abuse they had endured? Would they be too traumatized? Would they be too mistrustful after having been betrayed and lied to by so many others? These are just some of the questions in our minds as we drove past Hindu shrines and the occasional monkeys scampering along the roadside.
Finally, we arrived at our destination, and after unloading our gear, we began another 45-minute (bumpy!) drive to NHH. As you can see, getting to NHH isn’t easy – and that’s by design. It helps ensure the girls’ privacy and safety. When we arrived at NHH, we were met by security guards at the front gate. After signing in, we moved up the driveway past the mango trees, and in front of us, we saw the girls’ dorm and the multi-purpose building.
I held my breath as we approached the doors, and then they swung open to reveal seven girls, 11-18 years old, standing there with huge smiles on their faces and offering us flower garlands to wear around our necks. They were laughing and smiling and eager to show us their new home. What a relief it was to see happy and receptive faces! We spent the afternoon getting to know them and looking at crafts they had made and watching demonstrations of the things they had already learned after being there for only a week or so.
After an amazing first visit, we made the drive back to where we were staying. Just after we arrived, we got the news. The 14-year-old girl who had escaped a few weeks before had been found, and she was being brought to the house where we were staying so we could meet her before she made the remainder of the trip to NHH. Our prayers had been answered! I don’t have the words to describe the feeling of joy I had to see her walk through the door. It was overwhelming. After a short visit, she was taken to NHH. The next day we went to see her and the other girls again. We learned that she had resisted coming to NHH because she was frightened. On the long 5-hour car journey she had cried the entire way and kept asking, “where are you taking me?” She was told that she was being taken to a place where she would be cared for and would get meals, clothes, a bed, an education and make new friends with other girls who had been through the same kind of experiences she had been through. She didn’t believe it. Why should she? It wasn’t until after she arrived that she began to understand the blessing of her new home. After being at NHH for only a day, she approached the staff member that had brought her to NHH – the one she had resisted and argued with - and with a smile on her face, she said, “Thank you. Thank you for bringing me here.” In just a short time, she could already see the genuine love and concern of the staff, and she had already begun to bond with the other girls.
Space doesn’t permit me to tell all the stories right now, but we will continue to let you know about the girls, and how your prayers and your donations are changing their lives. If they could, they would grab your hand, look you straight in the eyes and say, “Thank you. Thank you for bringing me here.” You are saving their lives. As we receive more girls in the days ahead, we will continue to need your support. We cannot allow these girls to be lost again. Today they have hope in their hearts.
Please consider making a one-time or recurring donation at https://newhorizonshouse.org so their hopes will become a reality. Also, please spread the word about New Horizons, and let others know about the incredible opportunity we have to make a difference.
Steve Curtis, Vice-President