Sumi was orphaned when she was just 6 years old. An older female relative offered to bring Sumi from Bangladesh to India and care for her, but when Sumi arrived in Mumbai the relative sold her to another family as a domestic servant.
Though initially the family treated her well, the situation quickly worsened. The family piled more and more housework on Sumi and began emotionally abusing her. She was forced to look after the family’s young children and, though she desperately wanted an education, she was not allowed to go to school.
One day, the older men in the family began sexually abusing Sumi. She would scream in pain and hope for someone to hear her. Finally, a neighbor called the police, who investigated and removed Sumi from the home. She was entrusted to 2013 Humanitarian Honoree Triveni Acharya’s Rescue Foundation for protection and rehabilitative care.
At the Rescue Foundation safe home, she received medical treatment, psycho-social counseling, vocational training, and finally what she’d been dreaming of – an education.
As she healed, Sumi became more outgoing and social and formed a desire to help girls like herself. Haunted by the feelings of defenselessness she experienced at the hands of her abusers, Sumi chose to focus her vocational education on mastering karate and teaching it to other girls. She believes it’s important for girls to be able to defend and protect themselves in dangerous situations.
Now 15, Sumi has expanded the support she is providing to younger trafficked girls. In addition to karate, she teaches meditation, mentors girls as they transition to new lives, and provides special physical fitness training to HIV positive young women.
To date, Sumi has trained 50 girls in karate. She is determined to devote a large part of her life to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking and teaching girls and women to protect themselves. She is committed to giving others a gift she received for the first time the day she joined the Rescue Foundation – freedom from fear.
Today we celebrate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which outlined the essential freedoms due to every human being. One essential freedom it recognizes is freedom from fear. Sumi’s quest to provide this freedom to girls who, like her, lived in constant fear, is an inspiration. We’re proud to share her story this International Human Rights Day and hope it will encourage others to stand up for this freedom for children around the world.
World of Children is currently funding Triveni Acharya’s Rescue Foundation through a 2015 Alumni Award. To support her work, and the work of others we fund, visit our Online Gifts Catalog and purchase a gift. To share the gift with a loved one, print out and personalize a gift certificate specific to the gift or gifts you choose.