This week, we look at what it means to prevent girls and young women falling prey to traffickers or being vulnerable to abuse. Blossom's story is a wonderful example of just what a difference your support can make - and how effective intervention at an early age can be

16-year-old Blossom is full of anticipation about her future; this last year she has excelled in her schoolwork to achieve tops marks in her final exams. She has loved being on the school basketball team, enjoys close friendships, and is excited to start her pre-university studies in Life Sciences, with the aim of becoming a doctor.

For staff at The Freedom Challenge-supported school in central India, Blossom’s success is all the more remarkable considering her background, and the fraught relationship she has with her mom.

Given up hope

Blossom grew up in a slum on the outskirts of Secunderabad. Her mom, Pryia, was forced into the sex trade from a young age – she has known nothing but abuse from the hands of men – and has almost given up hope of ever being free.

When Blossom was in her early teens, a group of community workers from a Freedom Challenge-supported Health Initiative program, tried to help Blossom’s mom. But Pryia has been so conditioned to working in the sex trade that it may take many years for her to really accept help and trust outsiders.  But the workers knew that, given the opportunity, Blossom’s life could be completely transformed.

At risk of abuse

With her mom’s permission, the workers took Blossom to a shelter for children who have been abused or children at risk of abuse. Growing up in the slums, with a mom who was unable to adequately care for or protect her put Blossom at great risk of abuse and of suffering the same fate as her mom.

Blossom did not find the transition to the shelter easy at first. She had never known structure or routine, had very little education, and now she was enrolled in a high-achieving English medium school.

A new life

Slowly, she settled in and began to see the carers in the shelter as people who had her best interests at heart, people who genuinely cared for her and loved her. The more supported and ‘at home’ she felt, the more she began to work hard at school and in her extra-curricular activities. Over time, the staff were delighted to see a lively and joyful young girl emerge.

But they could not have anticipated just how well Blossom’s hard work would pay off. Many of her classmates come from secure, loving, hardworking local families. With Blossom’s disadvantaged background, few people thought she would adequately catch up with her peers. But Blossom not only caught up with them, she surpassed them.

Following dreams

After graduation, Pryia tried to persuade Blossom to return to the slum to work in a menial job to earn a small income and marry a local labourer. But Blossom listened to her ‘other moms’ in the shelter and chose to carry on her education; she chose to believe that, in spite of where she comes from, she can follow her dreams and be the person she was created to be.

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