Editor’s note: We are thrilled to feature a series of blog posts from Carol Metzker. a longtime supporter of, and donor to Free the Slaves. Carol has traveled to India to see Free the Slaves’ frontline partner work. Her most recent trip took her to the Punarnawa ashram in Bihar. She will be writing about her experience exclusively for the FTS blog. Carol!
Arriving at Punarnawa Ashram in India is no easy feat. From my home in Pennsylvania, USA, it takes a few plane rides over a few days—over expansive ocean and past snow-capped Himalaya mountains. The subsequent car trip ranges from smooth highway sailing to bumpy dirt lane adventures that make Disney thrill rides seem pale in comparison.
Along the way, the reasons for the urgency and importance of Free the Slaves’ (FTS) work and Punarnawa Ashram’s existence become apparent. Bonded laborers pluck new leaves from the region’s tea gardens. Chimneys—from brick factories that operate on the backs of slaves—dot the horizon. At a truck stop, young girls wait for their traffickers, pimps, johns and middlemen to determine their future, horrific in too many cases.
To experience Punarnawa Ashram, a home of “new beginnings” for girls rescued from human trafficking, sexual exploitation and slavery, is worth every moment of travel and every pang of the heart.
Blog entries over the next few days and weeks will be a masala—a spicy hodgepodge—of my insights, experiences, reflections and feelings about my November 2011 visit to the ashram. They will celebrate the extraordinary work being accomplished by FTS staff, ashram workers and the girls themselves. They will invite you to feel the journey and to join the quest for freedom for all worldwide.