Reema as a young lady
Reema as a young lady

Little Reema was only five years old when her mother deserted the family for another man. Heartbroken and ashamed, Reema’s father hanged himself.

Reema was left in the care of her grandmother who was critically ill with tuberculosis. When her grandmother died a few months later, her uncle assumed custody and began making plans to sell Reema into prostitution.

In a nearby village, a young couple named Prasanna and Arpana Khaling had just completed seminary. Now they are long-time partners with International Needs India, but back then they were praying and seeking the Lord’s leading as they felt called to minister to the vulnerable and impoverished girls of the small city of Siliguri in West Bengal, where Reema lives.

One day, the Khalings received an urgent message from an elderly woman who said she knew of a young girl in imminent danger. Praising God for his leading, Prasanna and Arpana quickly assembled the necessary legal documents and confronted Reema’s uncle.

The moment the Khalings met Reema, the child’s eyes told a story of anguish and despair. “Her eyes were begging us to take her away from that horrible situation,” they recall.

At first Reema’s uncle refused to let her go. But the Khalings finally persuaded him to sign over Reema as their adopted daughter – only one day before she was to be condemned to a wretched and dangerous life of sexual enslavement.

The Khalings took Reema home to raise as their own beloved daughter. Reema’s new life began, and the International Needs home for girls known as Sano Diyo – “A Little Lighthouse” – was born.

Today Reema’s eyes tell a very different story.

She lives in a warm and supportive Christian home, the eldest of the other 30 Sano Diyo girls. Reema calls Prasanna and Arpana “Papa” and “Momma.” She is a vibrant, intelligent 19-year-old whose love for the people around her is only eclipsed by her love for the Lord.

Reema’s dreams for the future include a degree in sociology. She plans to go back to her home village where she was left alone and abandoned so she can help other little girls who have no one to speak up for them.

“The Lord has saved me,” she says. “God willing, when I stand on my own feet, I want to save many more children like me.”

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