Until she was 14 years old, Jothi knew only the hard work and harsh treatment of life inside South Asia’s rice mills. Her family was under the control of mill owners who held them with debts and treated them like slaves.
Every day, Jothi woke before dawn to work. Adults would haul and boil heavy loads of raw rice, then bring it to the courtyard. There, Jothi and other children would dry the rice by spreading out the piping-hot grains with their bare feet. "It was as if I was walking on hot, burning coals," Jothi remembers.
The family was never given enough food to eat and soon became malnourished.
1 in 4 victims of forced labor trafficking is a child, like Jothi was when IJM rescued her and her family.
In November 2011, a group of government officials, police and IJM staff arrived to rescue families at a neighboring mill. Jothi’s parents and the other laborers jumped over the wall to ask for help.
Authorities rescued 47 people from two mills that day. All the adults and children who were forced to work got Release Certificates from the government — which broke their bonds to the owner — as well as new land to call home.
You can help rescue and restore more women like Jothi and stop the business of modern-day slavery for good.
Jothi’s family and the others joined IJM’s two-year aftercare program, where they could learn life skills, begin to overcome their trauma and plan for a better future.
Today, through education and loving support from caring friends like you, Jothi has developed a talent in tailoring and quilt-making. She dreams of starting her own shop soon.
“People here frequently tell me that I am an artist,” she says proudly. “They say I have a lot of talent that has finally taken root and is blooming to its full potential. Today, I am happy and at peace.”