Shama Mandal

Born in a poor, small village in Bengal, my family arranged a marriage for me when I was just 10 years old. I wanted to do my part to help my family, but I was terrified to be married at such a young age. Bewildered by my circumstances, knowing only that a childhood was something I could never have, I did my best to please my husband despite my young age and inexperience. My husband, however, was an angry and violent man. When I became pregnant with my first child, I hoped giving my husband a son would earn his favor. Alas, the child was a girl, and, enraged, my husband threw me out.

I desperately tried to provide for my newborn daughter, but without work, food was impossible to come by. One day, a woman came to me and offered me a job making clothing. Overjoyed, I was certain my salvation had come at last. I accepted the job but was surprised to find myself transported nearly 2,000 kilometers away from my home in Bangladesh to Bangalore, India.

The next thing I knew, I was being sold into prostitution. Lost and confused, unable to even speak the local language, I was sold again and again, trapped in slavery. Without any formal education or training in useful skills, I was utterly without hope and unable to break free of my chains. Finally, I ended up in Mumbai and, by the grace of God, became connected with the Hilltop of Hope ministry. Now I am learning to sew and make bags so that I can earn a dignified income to support myself and my three children. I am also learning about the love of a Savior who gave up His life so that I could find hope both in this life and in eternity.