Stories of Freedom

Sudara Stories: Leela

December 29, 2016

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 Leela.

Leela’s Story of Hope and Freedom

Leela lost her father at a very young age.  Her mother chose to take on a job as a day laborer after his death, but the income was not enough and she turned towards the sex trade in order to provide for her family.  Leela doesn’t remember much about her childhood, but she can still hear the derogatory comments her mother’s customers made towards her and her siblings.  She remembers the many times  they would abuse her.  And, she remembers that her mother was too afraid to speak up, afraid of angering the customer if she told them to stop…and so this abuse continued for several years.

Leela’s mother became ill a few years ago and she was not able to bring in as much income as before.  She began to encourage Leela to accept her customers advances and offers.  After several months, though, Leela was being pressured daily to join the sex trade; she feared that she would soon be forced into it and would endure the same suffering she saw in her mother.

Leela ran away from home one night with the help of a local NGO; they brought her to a Sudara partner center in search of safe housing and skills-training. She has started to make many friends at the centers and she told us she is excited about her graduation later this year.

Thank you for continuing to invest in and empower women like Leela to create a new life for herself. Read more Sudara Stories here. And, find the PUNJAMMIES® we named in honor and celebration of her here.

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  • Reply TracyG October 11, 2017 at 10:37 am

    What happened to her mother and siblings? Did the NGO help them too? Is Leela earning enough to help them?

    • Reply Erika November 4, 2017 at 6:44 am

      Hi Tracy — Unfortunately, we do not have any follow-up information about her family. Our centers do provide living wages, though, which allow a woman to provide for herself and others. We hear many stories like Leela’s — where a woman’s mother is involved in the commercial sex trade, but wants a different life for their children. In many of those situations, the mother stays in the sex trade because she was born into it or she has been involved for so many years that she doesn’t believe there is anything else available to her.

  • Reply Mairhee October 4, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I love your beautiful things (

    • Reply Erika October 7, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Thanks so much for the comment and kind words!

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