Raped by her stepfather at the tender age of five, being sexually abused was the norm for Lotus* growing up in Bangladesh.
As a young girl, she was entrusted to several people where she worked as a maid. Simply wanting a place to live and a hot meal, Lotus didn’t know any better and was abused in almost every house she stayed in – even being forced to terminate a pregnancy by one of her employers.
“It was painful and scary,” she recalls.
Afterwards, prostitution became her way of life, but Lotus always longed “not to be used any more” and make her own family. Being pretty and only 15 years’ old, finding a husband was easy, but unfortunately, the man Lotus found was a drug addict and she was forced to keep selling her body to meet their daily needs and her husband’s drug habit.
“Few days were good. Most of the time he was drugged or anxious without his daily dose and he would get angry for no reason and beat me terribly.”
Lotus endured five years of abuse until one day, she was introduced to Serving In Mission’s Children's Uplift Programme (CUP) in Dhaka, by a former client.
CUP’s training programme shows God’s love in practical ways as the women learn skills that will help them earn a living away from the streets.
However, it took months for Lotus to regularly attend the training – quitting suddenly and then returning weeks later after a big quarrel with her husband. Having no relative or other family member, Lotus felt strongly attached to her husband, and even to this day, cannot completely detach herself from him.
Breaking point came when Lotus fell ill with dengue fever and got no help from her husband. CUP’s health worker took her to the hospital for medical treatment and after she was discharged, Lotus stayed for weeks at CUP’s night shelter.
Nevertheless, again she went back to her abusive husband, although by this time, she had become a regular attendee at the programme.
“I never received care and love from anybody until I came to CUP,” she says. “For the very first time in my life, I feel protected and cared for. I pray to God and peace fills my heart, that is something new to me.”
After a year on the programme, Lotus has made good progress and is now able to read and write. Recently, she came to stay full time at CUP’s night shelter while she continues her training.
Lotus looks peaceful and content, but still has deep emotional wounds.
However, she is focusing on her work and attentively listening to the morning devotions, declaring: “I am not going back to him any more – there is no way to go back to my previous life.” *Name has been changed. Representative image used.
By CUP staff
To learn more about the ministry of CUP, visit http://simbd.org/
Give thanks for the CUP programme, which is having a huge impact on the lives of underprivileged women and children, turning them away from a life of oppression to having a hope for the future.
That Lotus may have a personal encounter with the one who can satisfy her every need and make her flourish in full.
That Lotus will be able to get a job and build a better life for herself, founded on the security she has in Jesus Christ.