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News from India

January 12, 2010

I have recently received a news letter update from the crew at Freeset. Below is a message from Kerry Hilton, the founder of Freeset. I hope through these updates you can get a growing sense of what amazing things Freeset is up to!

Hi Everyone,

Everybody tells me I’m hard to buy presents for. I guess it’s hard to get excited about stuff, especially when most of us have too much already. I have to say though, if a present can be likened to being able to see freedom at work in the lives of women, there is no Christmas present quite like it. A couple of weeks ago one woman gave me the best Christmas present ever. Let me explain.

While Gina was trapped in prostitution she had no room to call her own. She used to stay under another woman’s bed in a brothel. I guess there were times when she had to wait while her friend finished with a customer before she could emerge from underneath the bed. I presume when she had her own customers she was permitted to use the bed for a fee.

Fortunately, not long after joining Freeset, she was able to move into a new room with her six year old son, a place they could call their own. Well, you could call it a room but it’s more like a closet, a room created from the empty space underneath a skinny staircase. The highest point is four feet and the lowest – well – you get the picture. Still, Gina has been able to leave the sex trade and that’s worth celebrating.

There are times though when Gina, at her new job at Freeset, falls off asleep. You see, being H.I.V. positive means she is not always feeling on “top of the world.” Thankfully, the antiretroviral medication helps bring some stability to her health.

Good rooms are hard to come by in our community so I’m always on the lookout on behalf of Gina and other women. I mean, wouldn’t it be great for Gina to have a better room. Just two weeks ago Gina heard about a room coming available in the very building she was living in. With a little bit of help with the deposit she would have a much better living space for both her and her son. I could see just how much she wanted that room.

When the landlady approached me to see if Freeset wanted to take on that room I was faced with a huge dilemma. Gina wasn’t the only one in need. Women trapped in the sex trade often have lots of, what I call, parasites feeding off them — people who sit on their backsides doing nothing but using the women as a source of income. Their aim is keep them in the trade and live off them as long as they can. Of course these women can never be free until the parasites are dealt with.

Sadly, even though Putul has been at Freeset for a while, she is yet to be free from prostitution. Although this is hard to understand, her parasites are her mother and brother who pressurize her to stay in the trade.

Talking things through with Putul, we both agreed the best way forward was to find a new room away from her family parasites. Now you can see the dilemma. Who gets the room? Gina or Putul? And who gets to decide?

Knowing that Gina had her mind set on that room I decided to talk with her first. ‘Gina, I know you’d love to move to the bigger room and it would be great for you and your son. The difficulty is that Putul is still selling her body and desperately…” Before I could finish my carefully crafted sentence of explanation Gina interrupted with the biggest of smiles. “Give her the room. I have freedom now. I’m free and she’s not – please give the room. I’d love for her to have the room.”

My Christmas present: To be further down the track in understanding what real freedom is. I guess sometimes we think freedom is the absence of conflict and pain and the ability to have total control over our lives. Gina has neither and yet can stand before God and others and say I’m free. Of course, it helps me understand a little more about this baby born in a stable who didn’t have a room either.

Kerry Hilton – Managing Director Freeset

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