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News : Vulnerable Women


Meseret – 28 Jan 2014

For the first time women like Meseret feel empowered to have their voice heard and to earn vital income so that they can improve their children’s futures.

Meseret (pictured right) says – “I can’t express in words what my group means to me. They are my sisters – we support each other in everything. And we help to look after the rest of the community. By saving and investing in small businesses, I was able to completely transform my life and give my daughters a better future”

Meseret felt hopeless and alone when she was breastfeeding her daughter Kalkidan. Her husband’s labourer salary provided scraps of food and they slept on the floor with no possessions. They had 50 birr to their name.

When she heard about self help group – Addis Alem or “New World”, Meseret went along. What she found was a group of 17 women and a facilitator who had just set up a group bank account and were saving 50 cents a week each.

Meseret wondered what was the point in saving an amount that was so tiny but agreed to join and became the book keeper for the group. The group grew from strength to strength, not only providing business loans to one another but also social support for childcare and healthcare bills.

“The group allowed me to take a 50 Birr loan and I bought and sold charcoal for a good profit. I started making handicrafts and was able to send my child to school”.

A member of Meseret’s group encouraged her to go to church and she decided to go and see what was going on one Sunday with her husband Belay. They happened to arrive when the congregation was flooding out and Belay commented “don’t the faces of these Christian people look beautiful”. Meseret & Belay are now Christians and use all the opportunities that they have to introduce others to the church.

Meseret gained so much confidence that she applied for a job at the Government Office and is now responsible for Women’s and Children’s welfare issues.

Meseret says “if I had the resources, I would write a book about my story because I am so passionate about helping others to see that they can change their futures”.

She helps new groups in her town but says that she will continue to meet with her original group until she dies, they are like family.

Please help Tearfund to set up new groups through the Kale Heywet Church in Ethiopia.

More about Self-Help Groups (SHG)

Visiting project in Malawi

Visiting project in Malawi – 13 Dec 2013

During his visit to Malawi Markus met Doreen Chilenda (pictured right) who has been taught about conservation farming, which is locally known as “farming God’s way”. Doreen was sceptical at first, but at the end of the workshop she thought that she should give it a trial. Now she calculates the spaces before planting, uses animal manure and covers the field.

Conservation farming is about keeping the water and nutrients in the soil. She noticed that she needs 60% less fertilizer and less weed is growing on her field. Being HIV positive Doreen said she appreciates that this means less work and thus better health. She hopes for a good harvest and that in three years time she will need no fertilizer at all.

To us Doreen is a wonderful example of a great strong woman, who once given a chance improved her life by making the right choices.

Prosecuting traffickers in India – 5 May 2011

In 2006, Debbie Walker visited India for a two-week holiday. Confronted by the horrific reality of child trafficking, she ended up spending four years there with Tearfund’s partner Freedom Firm. Reuben Coulter, Chief Executive of Tearfund Ireland, caught up with her while she was visiting her family in Ireland.

How did you get involved in with helping trafficked girls?
During my holiday in India, I met young girls who had been rescued from trafficking. They were of a similar age to me but their lives were so different. I realised that God was calling me to play a part. Tearfund partner Freedom Firm were looking for someone with legal skills and I had recently graduated in law. I agreed to undertake a role to manage the team of local investigators and ensure that rescued girls received appropriate aftercare.

How do these girls end up being trafficked?
For many girls, it is the desperation of poverty which makes them vulnerable. For example, Laxmi was only ten years old when she was trafficked. Her mother was dead and her father was desperately ill, so she got on a train to Mumbai to search of work. She thought she was being offered a job as a maid but, instead, she ended up as one of thousands of child prostitutes in Mumbai.

What happened to Laxmi?
Fortunately, an investigative team heard that the brothel where Laxmi was working had under-age girls. They sent a team in to investigate and gather evidence. In coordination with the police, the brothel was raided and Laxmi was set free from her horrific life at the age of 12.

How did Laxmi recover from the experience?
Laxmi was incredibly traumatised. She initially entered a government refuge for women but it wasn’t a good place. Eventually she came to the Freedom Firm home where we were able to counsel, support and pray with her. We couldn’t undo the past but we were able to provide her with hope for the future. Today she is completely transformed. She is part of a local church and has a good job in a call centre.

You are back in Ireland now. What will you do next?
In September I’m starting a doctorate in law in Minneapolis, USA. I’m not sure where God will lead me but I’ll continue to use my legal skills to fight injustice. Each of us has God-given talents that we are called to use for his kingdom.

Take action this summer.

Setting the captive free – Karishma’s story

Setting the captive free – Karishma’s story – 11 Apr 2011

It’s estimated that 575,000 children are trapped in sex trafficking in India. Tearfund’s local partner Freedom Firm is battling to stamp our sex trafficking. While the laws in India against sex trafficking are strong they are rarely applied. Freedom Firm investigates brothels suspected of soliciting minor girls, works with the police to raid these brothels, prosecutes the brothel keepers and helps to restore the girls. The work is dangerous and often disheartening but they are seeing successes. Without the intervention of Tearfund’s local partner Freedom Firm, Karishma would still be in captivity.

Help us bring freedom. Give today

Karishma, a young girl age thirteen was discovered in a brothel by a Freedom Firm undercover investigator. She was ‘for sale’ for 70 rupees (€1.20).

Freedom Firm reported it to the police and requested that they intervene. But when they raided the brothel Karishma had been moved. She was no-where to be found. Freedom Firm investigators searched for her over the next five months with no success. Then a local informant gave a tip off that she had been taken to the Sadar Bazaar, a red-light district in the city of Kolhapur. However it’s a massive slum with thousands of people. It seemed she might never be found.

Then the miracle happened. After days of searching, equipped with only scant information and an old photograph of Karishma, an informant was found who recognized her from the photo. The investigators were led to a brothel on the edge of town. The building was raided and Karishma was found, traumatized but alive.

That was over four years ago.

The brothel keeper was arrested but after a long trial was unjustly acquitted despite the overwhelming evidence. It has been discouraging for the team but an appeal has been made. It is hoped that the brothel keeper may still be convicted but bringing justice requires perseverance.

Karishma now lives at a Freedom Firm aftercare home. The scars of her past are deep and recovery from her awful experience takes time. With six other rescued girls she is experiencing emotional healing through counselling and prayer. She is learning to look after herself and receiving a basic education and skills training to set up her own small craft business. Finally she is experiencing the goodness of life.

She is free at last.

Will you help us to bring freedom? Only €22 per month can pay for an undercover investigator to raid a brothel & set a girl free.

Give today or Give monthly


Slavery & St Patrick

Slavery & St Patrick – 16 Mar 2011

March 17th, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated across the world. But few people remember how his life in Ireland began as a child slave.

When he was about 16 Patrick was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. He was forced to work looking after pigs for six years before escaping and returning to his family. Patrick later returned to Ireland as a missionary after a vision where he saw the Irish people calling out for him to come and share the good news of Christ. The history of Ireland was irrevocably changed because of one slave boy.

Ways to get involved
Give monthly
Run for Freedom – 6th June Women’s Mini-marathon

Modern-day Slavery

There are 27 million people in slavery today. This means that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. Slavery has existed for thousands of years, but changes in the world’s economy and societies over the past 50 years have enabled a resurgence of slavery.

One hundred and forty-three years after the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1865 and 60 years after the U.N.‘s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned the slave trade worldwide, slavery — or, as it is euphemistically called, human trafficking — is actually thriving. It is, as Hillary Clinton has said, “the dark underbelly of globalization.”


Slavery has many forms — debt bondage, forced domestic servitude and forced prostitution — still exists is, indeed, shocking, mostly because it is invisible to those of us who don’t know where to look for it.

This new slavery has two prime characteristics: slaves today are cheap and they are disposable.

Cheap, Disposable People

  • An average slave in the American South in 1850 cost the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s money; today a slave costs an average of $90.
  • In 1850 it was difficult to capture a slave and then transport them to the US. Today, millions of economically and socially vulnerable people around the world are potential slaves.

Slavery in Ireland today

Sadly it is also happening in Ireland today; people are being trafficked into our country to provide slave labour or forced into prostitution. Others are being trafficked through Ireland to other destinations.

The 2008 US State Dept “Trafficking in Persons Report” says “Ireland is a destination country for women, men, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor… Women from Eastern Europe, Nigeria, other parts of Africa as well as smaller numbers from South America and Asia, have reportedly been trafficked to Ireland for forced prostitution. Labour trafficking victims reportedly consist of men and women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines”. Find out more about trafficking in Ireland from Ruhama or Tirzah

Rescuing girls from slavery

When she was 13, Farheen was sold to a brothel owner in Mumbai for 5,000 rupees (€65). Her captivity lasted for years and years.

But, one day, outside the brothel, Farheen met staff at Tearfund’s partner Aruna. The Aruna team worked tirelessly for eight years to secure her freedom. Now, Farheen is a cleaner at the Aruna drop-in centre in the mornings and works as a counsellor for a government organisation in the afternoon, visiting girls who work as prostitutes.

Tearfund partners in India are successfully working together to end child slavery. They are raiding brothels to rescue girls, prosecuting brothels which are involved in trafficking and providing care and rehabilitation so that these girls can once again lead a live of freedom.

Will you help us to bring freedom? Only €22 per month can pay for an undercover investigator to raid a brothel & set a girl free


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