Children at Risk Category
My name is Minoti. I am 17 years old.
I was born in a very poor village in Nepal. I have two brothers and two sisters. I don’t remember very much about my childhood. I know that my family struggled and our basic needs were not always met. I remember my father was often drunk. One day when I was very young, my mother couldn’t handle it anymore and she left us. Things just got worse. My father couldn’t provide for us.
Then, one day, a lady approached my father and told him that she would take care of me and my sister. She would get us a job to work in a teacher’s home. My father agreed.
I was just 8 years old.
What my father didn’t know was that my sister, Ashmi, and I were separated immediately. What he didn’t know was that the lady lied to him about where we were going and what we would be doing.
To this day I don’t know where they took Ashmi. As for me, I was taken straight to India. It was a long journey and I was tired and scared. I was cut off from everyone and everything I had ever known .
I was taken to a house and made to do domestic work. They made sure I ate but not too much, and gave me steroids to build up my body. Once I reached maturity, I was taken to a brothel. I had no idea what was in store.
At the brothel, life was hard. The brothel owner was cruel and he beat me often. If I did not want to entertain customers I was not given any food. I was told to tell people I was 19 years old. And when there were raids on the brothel, I was hidden away. Of course I did what they said. I was terrified. They told us that if we were discovered we would be arrested and that prison would be even worse than living at the brothel. Every day I did what they said. Every day I serviced customers. This was my life for three years.
Then finally, one day, the brothel owner was arrested. I saw a window of escape and I ran away with another girl.
We first went to Delhi and after some time ended up in Kolkata. Each place we went we continued doing what we knew – prostitution. How else would we survive? I had been groomed for this line of work since I was 8. I had nothing else to offer. In Kolkata, a brothel madam took me in. Life in a brothel was what I knew and this one was no different. This was my life. After about 8 months there was a police raid. I was rescued along with two other girls! The three of us stuck close together. We were all under the age of 18 and were sent to a place called the Mahima home. I walked hesitantly through the doors. I looked around nervously. I trusted no one.
Mahima is an aftercare home that helps minor aged girls like me who have been rescued from the sex trade, assisting us physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
When I first arrived at Mahima Home I didn’t like it at all. I wouldn’t speak to the other girls or participate in any of the activities. When I met with my caseworker, I lied about everything. Then I would just watch. I would watch the other girls and the aunties. I would watch their reaction to me and their interactions with each other.
Very slowly my heart began to soften as I realized that Mahima wasn’t a bad place and that these people genuinely cared about me. I also realized that I could have the opportunity to study and make a better life for myself there. I asked to attend school like the other girls. I wanted to learn so badly and worked hard. I am still in school and am doing well. I also completed a tailoring course.
There was one area that I loved the most at Mahima and that was dance. They taught us classical dance and we were even able to compete in dance competitions! And we actually won! It was very exciting! We were all so happy!
The more time I spent at Mahima, the more I opened up and started remembering things about my past. I remembered my family and wanted so badly to reconnect with them. I wanted to go home to Nepal. I thought that it wasn’t possible but prayed to God that it would happen. And it did. Mahima helped me make contact with my family and there was much rejoicing. I hope to visit them soon. But for now, I will remain at the Mahima home and continue to heal my body and my spirit. This is my home and I am very happy here.
Last month, I was able to help with a rescue at the brothel I use to stay at. I told the police about the places I used to be hidden, and a young girl was rescued that day. She was aggressive and violent, the most violent the police had seen to date. But I knew her. We used to stay together at that same brothel. She stayed by my side and I gently combed her hair, while sharing with her my experience at Mahima. In a couple of days the anger and violence subdued and she had a gentle smile on her face. I remember being in her position not that long ago. My aunties thanked me for my help with her but I told them that I was just doing what all my aunties had done for me – if I can help one girl I know what God will be happy.
I hope to finish school and go on to college. In the future I would like to be a social worker and help more girls.
At The Mahima Care Homes, girls find shelter, nutritious food, counselling and the support of caring staff. Staff counsellors create individualized treatment and recovery plans for each girl with professional psychological and medical care. In this restorative and safe environment girls can regain a sense of dignity and learn skills that help them become self-sufficient and to reintegrate into society.