Become a partner in freedom and empower women to live with hope and dignity!
Ashraya means ”a place of hope and dignity,” and at Harvest India, Ashraya is a place where women formerly enslaved in prostitution find not only hope and dignity but love and healing.
Extreme poverty, lack of opportunities, and cultural pressures tragically trap women and girls in sex work at unbelievably young ages. These women suffer unimaginable hardship and abuse. Today, over three million women and children are forced into commercial sexual exploitation in India alone.
The Ashraya Project is a Harvest India sewing center where up to 50 rescued women are offered the opportunity to learn the sewing trade. These women start by creating Leigh’s Blankies–cozy, beautiful blankets that will provide comfort to the lives touched by Harvest India, including HIV and AIDS patients, orphans, and the elderly.
As these women work together to learn and create beautiful projects, it is our hope that they find a new sense of dignity and self worth. While they develop their sewing skills, they can create even more products, like sheets, uniforms, and clothes, to support the Harvest India family.
Christina and Mercy Kumar Kathera will work hand in hand with these women at the sewing center, guiding them through their journeys to healing and freedom with prayer and encouragement.
“As we welcome these women into our family at Ashraya, they find acceptance and love that isn’t waiting for them anywhere else. We are thankful for our loving sponsors and standing beside these women so they are able to take the next important steps towards true, long-lasting freedom.”
In the stories below, you’ll meet women who were impacted by slavery and now find freedom with opportunities at Harvest India.
Two years ago, Jasmin found herself living a nightmare that millions of Indian women fear. Her husband of seven years died suddenly of an illness and she was left alone: a 28-year-old widow with two toddlers, no extended family, no trade skills and no way to meet the most basic needs of her impoverished family. When a friend of her late husband offered her a domestic job, she was relieved. Her relief only lasted a few days when she found that he had sold her to a female pimp, a “madame,” who forced Jasmin into slavery until she could work off her debt. When Jasmin refused, she was beaten and her children were threatened.
The Ashraya Project was created for women like Jasmin. Harvest India looks to provide for her and her children by teaching Jasmin a valuable sewing trade as part of a team, taking pride in the products she creates.
Jothi was brought to the Harvest India campus as an orphan at 5 years old after losing her parents to a deadly illness. Raised on the Harvest India campus, Jothi was loved and educated for many years. When she turned 12, her aunt and uncle arrived at the Harvest India Children’s Home, attempting to sell her into slavery. The Staff at Harvest India declined their request.
Jothi continued her education at Harvest India and graduated from the nursing college. She recently gained employment as a nurse and lives a life of freedom and enduring hope.
Gita’s parents, desperate to feed their other children, sold her into slavery, suffering for the next ten years. This program is committed to change despair into hope for women like Gita. The freedom to trust other people is foundational for building strong, unconditionally loving relationships. The Ashraya Project is the gateway to Gita’s future, seeking to rebuild her faith and trust alongside other women as they create goods to comfort others.
While on the Harvest India campus, a woman came before Suresh. She covered her face with a scarf, hiding a scar caused by acid after her in-laws burned her.
Unable to provide for herself after the death of her husband, her in-laws attempted to kill her by pouring acid on her body and face. Without any opportunity to provide for herself, she turned to a life of prostitution.
The Ashraya Project exists to provide love, basic needs and hope for the future of women enslaved in the sex trade.