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Safe and sound in Bangalore

Most of the women who arrive at the Bangalore Safe House have attempted suicide at least once. They’ve all lived through repeated abuse, usually inflicted by their husband but sometimes by other family members.

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The Safe House is one of more than 100 development projects supported by Christians via Anglican Aid[1], caring for vulnerable people through women’s and children’s empowerment, income generation, education, water and hygiene promotion, health, disability inclusion, community leadership and bible training.

The shelter, which celebrates its 10th birthday in 2020, can accommodate up to 80 women/children. There is a need for more staff and volunteers, particularly those with training in psychiatric and trauma counselling.

As well as a place to heal, the Safe House provides accommodation, pre-school and home-schooling, skills training and health care (physical and mental).

Crisis care is a big part of the work as women arrive fleeing the horror of the marriage they believed would protect them. Sometimes their own families have disowned them: a broken marriage is a source of great shame.

The Safe House offers life-changing services for women in desperate situations: transportation to legal proceedings, emergency health care, help with the children, a change of clothes, a bath.

“We are here to help women and children live self-sustaining, healthy lifestyles,” said Antonia. “We want to develop a transitional housing project that would further this mission.”

The Safe House is enterprising and would like to generate income through its own bakery, supplying local businesses.

“In June, one of our volunteers organised a bake sale during a cricket match at a local residential gated community. The sale was well-received by the community and we’re glad for the connections made there,” said Antonia, the head of Bangalore Safe House.

Antonia, like all the Safe House staff and volunteers, is a survivor of domestic abuse. They are all Jesus women and He is the ultimate survivor.

“We are here to help women and children live self-sustaining, healthy lifestyles,” said Antonia. “We want to develop a transitional housing project that would further this mission.”

“Some of the women speak no English when they arrive. Our residents may come from completely different areas and English is a coveted skill for job opportunities, so it is our policy to use English on a day-to-day basis.”

In India, women’s refuges are not the friendly places we might imagine.

According to opendemocracy.net, “(Indian) Shelters were first established to ‘protect’ vulnerable women from prostitution and trafficking rackets under the Immoral Traffic and Prevention Act 1956.

“The Nari Gruhs (women’s homes) staff don’t exactly welcome the women with open arms. The moral framework of society penetrates that of shelters, where such women are seen as “immoral” or “deviants” who transgressed social and community boundaries …”[2]

In contrast, the Bangalore Safe House offers respect, a clean environment and the love of women who understand.

Veena* is from the Indian state of Kerala. Before entering an arranged marriage, she was a well-respected engineer working for the local government and was able to support herself.

A couple of years into the marriage her husband Prem* started to control her – he would not allow her to go to work and she lost her job.

When she became pregnant, he didn’t allow her to go to medical checkups without him. After the birth of their son, Veena needed blood. Prem would not donate his blood even though they had the same blood type. He was not joyful about the baby.

He consistently put her down, telling her she was worth nothing. Eventually this psychological abuse became physical as well.

In 2015 Veena ran away with her son. She came to the Safe House where she encountered Jesus and found a home.

Antonia recalls, “She intellectually wrestled with the gospel but eventually she became convinced. Veena is a real leader in the shelter, being a role model for mothers and discipling other women.’

“The women who come here have a real heart for each other. For some, it is the first loving home they have ever known.”

You can be part of caring for the vulnerable. Contact Anglican Aid on 02 9284 1406 or donate** online at anglicanaid.org.au/eternity. 

* Not their real names

 ** Donations to the Bangalore Safe House are tax deductible.

[1] Bangalore Women’s Safe House
[2] Women’s Refuges in India

You can be part of caring for the vulnerable. Contact Anglican Aid on 02 9284 1406 or donate** online.

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