Now I feel like I’ve been reborn because I can see I was dead while I was in slavery. But now, I am so happy with this life.
Villagers freed from slavery
Vulnerable people empowered to avoid the slavery trap
Government programs accessed by the community
All the people of Preetpur were in slavery and living on borrowed land that belonged to the Forest Department. The slave owner had good rapport with the functionaries in the Forest Department and used this power to threaten that if the people of Preetpur didn’t continue working for him, he would have their land taken away. The villagers were so afraid and distrusting of anyone outside of their community that they would hide in the forest or their huts anytime someone outside of the village was seen. Because of this the initial stages of Schools4Freedom, building trust and organizing, was very challenging. Eventually the frontline team helped the people of Preetpur with some big wins and they realized they wanted whats best for their families. Everyone is Preetpur is now free, the adults are making their own money, and the children are doing great in government school.
Came to Freedom:
The Weiss Family
The challenge the frontline team had building trust at the beginning, took a positive turn when they rescued 15 children from a sari factory who had been trafficked and no one knew where they were. The children thought they'd never get to go home so when they were brought back to Preetpur the families were overjoyed. Another 35 adults who had been trafficked outside the village were rescued and the slave owner was forced to pay back the money they were owed.
The slave owner and upper caste people were always threatening to remove the people of Preetpur from the land where they were living. This caused a lot of distress and kept the slave owner in control so it was a big achievement was when the V4F team helped the community get legal status and ownership of the land. Twenty two community members received land allotment in their names. This made the community stronger, more united, and made it easier to apply for other government schemes and services.
At this time Preetpur understood the importance of organizing and holding meetings, but their progress became official when their Community Vigilance Committee leader, Jhama Vanavasi, was elected head of their local government. They never thought someone from their community could attain such a high level of success. After the election the community had the power to open a ration shop near the village.
The Weiss family jumped in to fund the first village (against the advice of people who loved them) before V4F even had non-profit status. They tell everyone they know about slavery and help V4F figure out how to do more and better. The Majhrati band? They welcomed Tari the first time she visited and played her all the way to the school. It was beautiful…and very loud.