Saturday, 16 May 2015

Minnie

She was in jail for 3 years.  She seems to be 20 years old now.  Why she was put in is not clear.  We will call her 'Minnie.'

Sheba got a call while she was in Madhya Pradesh by a social worker from a church which has an active and patient ministry in a number of jails across Mumbai-land.   Sheba has been to the local jail in Thane with social workers from this church-based organisation when a women's wing was opened up last year.

The request was whether we could have Minnie at JSK. 

Apparently, the authorities suddenly decided to release her.  Three years into her imprisonment - and suddenly she was told to go home.

But it seems she does not have a home.

Our friends took Minnie to two or three addresses that she claimed were of her relatives.  The people who were met at each place denied knowing anything about Minnie.  Heart-breaking stuff.  Someone is not telling the full truth.  On one hand there is every possibility that Minnie's relatives wanted nothing to do wither her.  On the other hand, she may not be fully clear about where she is from...

In any case, our friends were stuck and asked if we could help out at JSK.   So when Sheba came back from Madhya Pradesh, the social workers and Minnie were waiting for her at our centre.

We decided to do some HIV counselling and testing and let her stay the night at the JSK centre.

This morning the result was a happy 'negative.'  Good for Minnie, but it also means that we really cannot keep her at the JSK centre as we are focussed on people who are working through their HIV challenges.

When the dear folk from the organisation came by to pick up Minnie they were astonished.  They met a different Minnie, one who joyfully told about how one of our nurses had massaged her, about how she was included in the morning staff prayers - she literally jumped on her bed as she shared her experience at JSK.

The social workers who had brought her were dumb-founded to see the change in Minnie.  They literally cried.  These women who faithfully go to the jails and work with the prisoners and undertrials - how often do they see changes take place?

Seeing Minnie's change of heart re-challenged our friends to seek humane places for Minnie's next steps of rehabiliation.  The thought of taking her to the remand home was thankfully scrapped - and renewed efforts are on to see what can be done for her.

Will you say a prayer for this young woman?

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As Sheba was talking to the social workers, she asked about an African woman who Sheba met last year at the Thane prison.  The lady was Positive and Sheba wanted to know what her condition was.

The social workers told her that the authorities had released this woman.  Good news of course.  But then the heart-break.  The woman had been in jail for 3 years.  

Three years of her life were spent in Mumbai prisons - only for her to be set free as the trial fell apart.  Apparently this lady had a business where she brought in suitcases full of hair from her native country to India - and then stocked up with baby items on the way back.   Her business paid for her flying in and out as well as gave her a livelihood.

Except that some local NGO accused her of being a prostitute.  She was arrested.  And spent 3 years in jail.   And to top it off she is positive too.

Sheba asked the social worker to put us in touch with this lady.   

It's not been a good fortnight for justice in our country  - but there will come a day when everyone gives account for what they did... and did not do! 

Come Lord, quickly.

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