What a hero looks like

Found this story on cnn.com.

It’s about a Nepali women named Anuradha Koirala. She’s 61 years old. And for 16 years she’s been at war with the sex trafficking industry in Nepal. Literally at war. Her group, Maiti Nepal (Maiti means “mother’s home) has rescued thousands of girls over the years by raiding brothels and patrolling the borders where the girls are illegally carried across. That sounds like Navy Seal stuff. She also provides shelter and services for the victims once they are delivered from slavery.

Depending on the source, it is estimated that anywhere from 10-17,000 Nepali girls are enslaved each year. They are sold and brought across the border into India. Some as young as 9 years old. This should make us weep. And it should make us angry. Very angry. Like Jesus-cracking-a-whip-and-turning-tables-over angry. Because of Koirala’s willingness to go into battle against these corrupt forces, her group has been able to “rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 women and girls since 1993.”

12,000. Delivered from the worst kind of slavery imaginable. All because one women decided to do something.

Here’s a few things about her story that I thought were compelling.

She started because of her own pain.

    • Anuradha was in an abusive relationship for years. She lost three pregnancies over that time, which she attributes to the violence. As a result of her experience, she said her “purpose and responsibility completely changed.” Often we wonder why bad things happen to people. And what God is up to in our pain. It’s a mystery. But maybe God wants to use our pain to help others who are experiencing something similar. Empathy and compassion are critical factors in healing. Allowing our pain to motivate us to help others is a big step in personal healing as well. By using your pain to bring healing and hope to others, you allow God to take something awful and make it beautiful.

She started while she was making $100 a month.

    • Kind of blows up the excuse of “I don’t have the resources to make any real difference in the world,” huh? We need to start with what we have.  What injustice or suffering going on in the world breaks your heart? Just get started. Do something. Follow your passion. There’s power and momentum in just moving forward.

She started when she was 45.

    • Changing the world is not reserved for the young. And it’s not the exclusive territory of those who have a nice pedigree, college diploma, or trouble-free past. When it comes to battling the evil of this world, engaging with those who are suffering, and making a difference, age is no factor. Neither is our social standing, background, or our past mistakes. Today is a new day. It’s the day to start waging war against the darkness.

She doesn’t turn anyone away.

    • One of the most remarkable parts of Anuradha’s story is that she never says no. She just does what she has to do to accomodate every hurting girl or woman that comes her way. A lot of times we want to pick and choose who gets our help and who doesn’t. That’s not heroic.

The thing about being a hero is, you don’t start out with the goal of being a hero. You dive back into your own pain, and let that pain motivate you to help others who are hurting.

You stay after it. You work. You raid. You patrol. You shelter. You serve.

You do as Anuradha Koirala.

Note: because of its airport, the city of Atlanta is a hub for human trafficking. Depending on the source, Atlanta is anywhere from 11th to 4th in the world in the sex trade industry. To get involved in the fight, check out http://streetgrace.org

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