In the dim light of a misty and warm autumn morning, Annamma woke to frantic knocking at her door. Wishing there was someone else to tend to the visitor, yet knowing the urgency of the knocking meant someone was in great need, she rose from her bed, put on her lightweight wool shawl, and ambled through the semi-darkness to see who needed her.

Standing before her was a weeping young girl, Lavanya, who had knocked on her door many times before. Her family’s extreme poverty deeply affected the 8-year-old child’s well-being.

Her health was poor, her spirits low, and she was at great risk for abuse and exploitation despite her parents’ best efforts to care for her.

Annamma spent many days with Lavanya. She cared for her deeply and wanted to make sure she had a bright future. She had seen the lives of so many other young girls stolen by the trappings of poverty and the marginalization of society. She didn’t want that to happen to Lavanya.

Annamma has made it her life’s purpose to advocate for vulnerable women, girls, and families in her village. She was trafficked into ritualized prostitution at age eleven. She had no hope. She could survive, but she didn’t believe she would ever thrive. How could she when she was being abused over and over again.

Thankfully, compassionate people rescued her and offered the help she needed both emotionally and practically.

Through their help, Annamma learned a new skill so she could provide for herself. Her determination to help others like her remained strong. She longed to do more and she eventually found her calling to be a Freedom Fighter.

Courageously, every day, Annamma now stands confidently on the front lines of a harsh battle against an age-old structure of discrimination and abuse. She contends tirelessly for the safety, livelihood, and prosperity of those who cannot help themselves in this imprisoning systematic injustice.

She battles for people like Charvi who lost her mother at age 15 and faced constant threats of abuse from predators. Annamma made sure she was enrolled in vocational training that gave her skills to support herself and stay safe from danger.

She battles for people like Dharani whose impoverished parents were planning to traffic her into ritualized prostitution to meet their financial needs. Annamma intervened, providing food and stability for her parents while Dharani learned a marketable trade.

She battles for people like Mangila who was pregnant and experiencing complications. She had no access to medical care and was convinced she and the unborn child would soon die. Annamma brought her to a clinic where she received all the help she needed. A few months later, a healthy baby was born!

Without Annamma’s hard work, dedication, and extreme compassion, these women and girls had no hope, no future. Their lives would forever be marked by suffering and abuse. Her passionate intervention changed the trajectory of their lives forever.

Today, we salute Annamma and the 73 other Freedom Fighters across India!

And we are thankful for the generosity that fuels their work.

As you can imagine, there is a need for many more Freedom Fighters, right now! The more there are, the more girls and women are protected. This is an ongoing fight we must never abandon.

People like you have embarked on a movement to expand into 50 new villages this year which will protect 1200 more women and children from exploitation and abuse. That’s 1200 more people living abundant lives with hope, freedom, and opportunity because you took a moment to help.

**Our stories are always real. We change names and photos to protect those we serve.