When an individual visits the doctor for an ailment or injury, they are often treated on the spot or given a prescription for ongoing treatment.
These visits and prescriptions cost money. What doesn’t cost money is the love and support someone receives from family or friends after returning home, or while they are healing.
This type of treatment cannot be assigned a monetary value — it’s priceless.
Sadly, for 45-year-old Lagamavva in India, love is in short supply in her life but ailments are not.
Lagamavva first began visiting a DFN medical clinic earlier this year. She suffers from bad arthritis in her knees and needs nutritional supplements to remain healthy.
She quickly became a regular at the clinic, coming in every two weeks.
However, Lagamavva’s current health ailments pale in comparison to the lifetime of abuse and mental trauma she has suffered.
When Lagamavva was 12-years-old, she was dedicated as a temple prostitute. Her parents were struggling with their own health and finances. They believed if she was dedicated, the goddess Yellama would be appeased and their problems would be solved.
After spending two years being used by the men in her village, Lagamavva decided to run away to Mumbai, in search of a better life.
She arrived penniless and homeless.
A handsome man quickly befriended her and invited her to stay in his house. Desperate for a home, she agreed to go with him. She soon realized this invitation was not at all what it seemed.
She learned that this place was a brothel run by local gang leaders. She and three other girls suffered much in this home. Many men came and went, often armed with large knives.
Lagamavva was devastated, feeling she had just returned to the same abuse she was running from. But it was too late, the men would not let her leave. She was guarded day and night for many years.
It was a horrific time in her life.
Finally after eight years of sexual abuse, beatings and forced abortions, she decided she could no longer take it. She braved a risky escape by sawing through the grating in her window, climbed down two floors and crept away in the dark.
Sadly, she returned home to parents who no longer accepted her and a village that ostracized her.
That night she slept under a tree and, left in this vulnerable state, she was again assaulted by men.
It was after that night that Lagamavva knew that she needed to take care of herself and become an independent woman. Thus far, no one in her life had shown her any respect, care or love.
She built a hut made from sticks and tarpaulin. Her bathroom is the open field and her a kitchen a small fire outside her front door. It wasn’t much, but it was hers.
Over the years, Lagamavva became pregnant and had four daughters. She loved her daughters and enrolled them in the government school, encouraging them to study hard.
As they grew older, her daughters began to reject her after finding out about her life as a prostitute.
Lagamavva now lives with her youngest daughter who has a job to help provide income, as she is unable to work due to her crippling knee pain.
With each visit to the medical clinic, DFN health workers continually encourage Lagamavva and let her know she is loved and cared for. Her life matters. She matters.