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Community Joins Hands to Provide Safe Haven for Rescued Sex Trafficking Survivors

Sixteen survivors now have an opportunity to heal in a safe place –all thanks to a partnership of two groups who wanted to make a difference.

This month, a new aftercare home, Shanti Nivas or 'Dwelling Place of Peace,' opened on the outskirts of Mumbai to house and support 16 sex trafficking survivors.

This aftercare home is the result of a partnership between the Don Bosco nuns and a local church, a relationship facilitated by the IJM Mumbai Community Relations team.

IJM Mumbai works alongside the government to rescue and restore victims of sex trafficking, and partners with aftercare homes to ensure survivors are supported on their path to restoration.

A Desire to Support Trafficking Survivors

It was 2012 when Philip Newbigging, pastor of Assemblies of God church, his wife Shanti and their congregation first encountered IJM.

Hearing the stories of trafficking, and what trafficking victims go through stirred the hearts of their congregation.

'We didn’t have a clue what was happening around us. We were so oblivious,' Shanti said.

The couple knew they wanted to do something to help rescued girls and provide a safe place for their rehabilitation, but didn’t know where to begin. They explored various options, but to no avail.

'At first, they started helping us in small ways. They started providing Christmas entertainment programs at the aftercare homes. Some of their members volunteered as police witnesses to rescue operations,' said Mervyn D’Mello, IJM Mumbai community relations director.

Meanwhile, in 2013, Mervyn met with the Don Bosco nuns. One of them subsequently volunteered as an independent witness for a sex-trafficking rescue operation. Hearing of the rescues inspired them to do something more for trafficking survivors, said Sister Meena D’Silva.

After considering what to do with Shanti Nivas which had been closed since 2010, the nuns decided to offer the facility to house rescued girls.

Two Groups Bond Over A Shared Goal

Aware of both situations, IJM introduced the two parties with the hopes of a possible partnership. The discussions were successful, and on June 13, 2015 the partnership became official in an inauguration ceremony. The nuns are offering the use of the facilities and land and the Assemblies of God congregation will run the aftercare home.

In the meantime, IJM will continue to support the partnership.

'We want to see all of the survivors brought to this home totally rehabilitated, totally confident of themselves, having learned life skills at the facility, be able to hold their heads high in society,' Pastor Philip said, '…and at the end of the day, their lives transformed.'

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