We love sharing stories of the women who, as part of a skills-training program, sew together Punjammies®. The Sudara Stories series highlights a few of these strong, amazing women. Today, we are honored to introduce Vandana.
Vandana’s Story of Hope and Freedom
Vandana’s father died unexpectedly when she was a young girl. His work was the primary source of income for their family and he had always worked hard to take care of them. Vandana’s mother, Seema, had very little education or employable skills and, despite months of searching for a steady job, she wasn’t able to provide even the most basic of needs for her or Vandana. Traffickers heard about her husband’s death. And, like several other women in the village, the traffickers exploited their situation and forced Seema into the sex trade.
Seema remained in the sex trade for several years before contracting HIV/AIDS. To her traffickers, this diagnosis meant that she was no longer able to bring in the level of income they expected, so they sent her back to her village. Vandana tried to care for Seema on her own because they could not afford the medical care that she truly needed. Seema knew that she would not get better, though. And that, when she died, Vandana would be vulnerable to traffickers just like she was after her husband’s death.
Seema asked several people in the village for help. She told them her story and that she wanted a better life for her daughter. Neighbors told her about the skills-training program at one of Sudara partner sewing centers. And, that night, she met with a few people from the centers and asked that they help her daughter. Seema promised Vandana that she would be OK without her and that neighbors could care for her. Seema died from HIV/AIDS-related complications a few weeks later.
Vandana is currently enrolled in computer-skills courses at a Sudara partner sewing center and lives in safe-housing with several other women from the centers. She is very focused on her work and looking forward to finding a job in the technology industry after she graduates.
Thank you for continuing to invest in and empower women to create a new life for themselves and their family. You can read more Sudara Stories here. And, find the Punjammies® we named in honor and celebration of Vandana here.