(WARNING: some of this blog’s content could be upsetting)
Inspired by “Life”
One of the things Jo and I were most inspired by during our recent trip to India was meeting Keith and Ramona, who run the Chaiim Foundation in Mumbai. Chaiim works to restore victims of human sex trafficking and to reinstate them to live a full life again. They provide hope by teaching life skills and offering vocational training, education, housing, counselling and spiritual development to victims.
Keith, who started out as a businessman in Mumbai, had a change of direction after God spoke to him – and I do mean that God spoke to him. It happened during a visit to one of the very under resourced, government run homes that are intended to tackle this issue within India. These homes are very overcrowded and under resourced, often with nearly 200 girls living in a space designed for 50. Some are in such a poor state that the girls can even feel life is worse than before they were ‘rescued’.
During a visit to one of these homes Keith heard an audible voice say to him,
“Keith, get out of your boat. “
He turned to see who had spoken but there was no one there. And then the voice spoke again, “Keith, get out of your boat”.
It sounds very dramatic – a call to step out and to ‘walk on water’ – and talking to Keith he said that this moment shook his life’s foundations. After some internal struggles, and facing the fear of the unknown, Keith and Romana chose to obey God. They knew God was calling them to take action and it has changed everything.
Before Chaiim was set up Keith had become aware of a young girl – 12 years of age – who had been trafficked, and he had wanted to help her. When he located her, in a government home, she seemed unwilling to speak to him. Wondering if this was because he was a man, he asked about it. He was told that she had been beaten so badly by her ‘pimp’ that her jaw had been shattered and her teeth had ripped through her tongue leaving her completely unable to speak.
Keith left the home determined to help. He did some research and preparation and then returned to the home. On arriving they found that the girl was no longer there. They were told she had ‘gone home’. Enquiring into this further they were given some more information by the home manager: “I am sorry sir. Sadly this girl has now expired”. This young girl, just 12 years of age, died before Keith and Ramona could help.
Devastated at not having been able to help in time, God spoke again, “There are many other girls like this, and I want you to help them.”
Out of this calling Chaiim, which means “life”, was born.
It has been a huge journey of faith for Keith and Ramona, learning to trust God as they have pursued this ‘out of the boat’ calling. The results are fantastic to witness.
During our visit we saw how some girls were being taught to make clothes as a vocational skill. The clothes made in this way, which are of high quality, are then sold through an ethical clothing company in Germany.
The profits Chaiim makes from this provide a portion of their funding (the rest comes from donations – all from people in India)
Chaiim have now helped many victims of sex trafficking. Keith and Ramona’s love for Christ, and that of their team, has transformed lives. When we were with them Ramona was working out what to do in response to being asked to take in four girls from the government home, when they only had space to take in two. They were also delighted at having seen one of their girls recently get married – a total transformation.
This work is not without challenges and risks. This photo of the girls making clothing was carefully taken by Keith so that it didn’t show any of the trafficked girls faces, something that could put them at risk.
Chaiim is a great example of faith in action.
Keith and Ramona’s example also provokes some questions that we should consider:
What is God calling you to do to make a difference?
How is he calling you to get out of the boat?
And one more thing to remember:
Sex Trafficking is not unique to India
It’s a worldwide issue, affecting even the UK. In fact it turns that the United Kingdom is one of the most prominent destination countries for people to be trafficked to in Europe.
So, before you click on a link to view some “harmless” pornography, stop and think.
Remember the story of that 12 year old girl. Remember that she represents many other victims, of all ages, all over the world. Her story is not unusual.
Please look at these links … here … and here for more information on the link between human trafficking and pornography – it’s truly shocking. Please educate yourself on this. And remember, even an apparently ‘free’ site provides funding to this industry, via advertisers, when you click on it.
It turns out it’s not so harmless after all.
To find out more about Chaiim check out their website here or their latest newsletter here
If you want to see their clothes for sale then the link is here
And you want to find out more about human trafficking you could start here