Twelve-year-old Lalitha never had the chance to go to school because of her family’s poverty.

She followed her mother to the agricultural fields every day, learning how to pick the best, ripest vegetables to sell at the market later in the afternoon. After hours of hard labor, Lalitha and her mother would return home, tired and hungry. Despite their work, rarely did they have enough to eat. They almost always had some rice. Every now and then, they could afford some lentils or vegetables as well. But most nights, Lalitha went to sleep with a rumbling stomach, crying out for nourishment. 

One hot afternoon, her mother stepped on a cobra in the field. Lalitha, determined to find her mother treatment, took her to the village healer.  This man chanted, lit some incense, and applied mud to the snake bite. When he was done, he presented Lalitha a bill for treatment which she could not afford. 

Later that evening, Lalitha’s mother’s pain returned. This time, Lalitha took her mother to a clinic. The doctors there were able to help, but the clinic bill brought panic and fear to Lalitha. She knew she could never pay for her mother’s life-saving treatments.

Eventually, bill collectors came knocking, showing no compassion for the small family’s poverty. Lalitha’s mother, now healed, didn’t know what to do. She decided that to keep her daughter alive she would have to sell her into ritualized prostitution. So, horrified and desperate, she sent Lalitha to work the trade at age 12.

For years, Lalitha endured torture both in her own village and on the streets of Mumbai.

Eventually, she fell in love with one of the men who would visit her regularly.  She thought this would begin a new chapter in her life.  However, he quickly transformed into a monster who kidnapped her and brought many men to his home who raped her violently over three long, dreadful days and nights.

Eventually, the police came and, instead of arresting the perpetrators, arrested Lalitha. Three months passed inside that dirt floor cell where she believed the darkness of death would eventually take her life.

But then… a ray of light pierced the darkness.

A team of DFN Freedom Fighters found Lalitha! They fought for her freedom, and she was released from custody and given a safe place to heal and reclaim her life. This is compassion in action. It is how you change a life forever, one bright ray of hope at a time.

After spending time healing, Lalitha decided to join the DFN trauma recovery team to help others. Today, at age 35, she works full-time with vulnerable women. She has already rescued more than 50 girls from various forms of sexual exploitation, including dedications into the same ritualized prostitution that threatened to ruin her life forever.

That’s what Light does. It pierces the darkness of desolation and death. It provides hope, healing, and new life.

And this is what you can do. This Christmas, would you be a Light for another young girl like Lalitha? You can provide rescue support for $1.90/day.

Because every life matters.