Stories of Freedom

Sudara Stories: Lelitha

We love sharing stories of the women who, as part of a skills-training program, sew together PUNJAMMIES®. The Sudara Stories series highlights a few of these strong, amazing women. Today, we are honored to introduce Lelitha.

Sudara Stories Lelitha

{image via ©Paula Watts Photography}

Lelitha’s Story of Hope and Freedom

Lelitha grew up with an alcoholic father. She told us that she still remembers the nights her father would become violent.  She still remembers grabbing her baby brother and running into another room in hopes of hiding them both from his view. On the worst nights she remembers, he forced her mother to prostitute herself so that he could have more money for alcohol. Lelitha would hear her mother plead with him to find work, to stop drinking, to not force her into the sex-trade. If he was especially angry on those nights, though, she heard her mother’s screams. The next morning, Lelitha would notice cigarette burns covering her mom’s hands and legs. And she would notice the scars from where he had burned her before.

When Lelitha was in the 8th grade, her mother was diagnosed with HIV. Her father knew that a woman with HIV was no longer desirable in the sex trade and would not bring in much income; he forced Lelitha to quit school. Soon after, he also began pressuring her to enter the sex trade. Lelitha’s mother, in fear for her daughter’s life, told Lelitha that she must leave home as soon as possible. And, with the support of a community-based organization, her mother helped her run-away to one of the Sudara centers.

Lelitha is thriving here and quickly made friends with other ladies in the training programs. She is enrolled in two skills-training courses and she expects to graduate next year. She recently told us that although she is excited to graduate and use her new skills, she loves the community she has found here and knows it will be hard to say goodbye.

Thank you for continuing to invest in and empower women like Lelitha to create a new life for herself — a life that is free from sex-slavery and full of hope.

Read more Sudara Stories here. And, find the PUNJAMMIES® we named in honor and celebration of Lelitha here.

*Photo and name have been changed for identity protection and personal safety

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