18-Year-Old Indian Girl, Roopa Raju, Has Life Transformed After an Encounter With Christ

Roopa Raju

It’s been said the most beautiful people are those who’ve known defeat, known suffering, known struggle and have found their way out of the depths.

Roopa Raju is one of them.

“I’ve had a difficult life since my childhood and experienced more horrible things than most people my age,” Roopa said.

Rag Picker, Prostitute

At a young age Roopa was forced by her parents to join the ranks of India’s so-called rag pickers: men, women and young children who rummage through filthy garbage heaps in the cities of India.

They look for anything that can be recycled and sold — plastic, bottles, metal parts, pieces of glass, rotting discarded food.

“My day started at four in the morning and I picked trash for 10 to 12 hours,” Roopa said.

On a good day, she’d earn about $2.

On the streets, where dogs were her only companion and millions of squirming maggots, flies, rats and crows her constant distraction, she’d compete with other rag pickers for a few scraps.

“When I got older my mother told me I wasn’t bringing in enough money picking trash, so I was forced to sleep with men to get more money. I became a prostitute,” she said.

With tears welling up in her eyes, Roopa described the rage she felt toward her parents.

“I thought of running away. I didn’t trust my parents. How could they do such a thing to me?” she said. “I was angry. I wanted to kill them. I wanted something terrible to happen to them.”

Roopa is a Dalit, a so-called ‘untouchable’. Indian society labels Dalits lowest of the low. Impure. Less than human.

Almost all rag pickers are Dalits. And like her, many young girls end up as prostitutes or get caught in a web of human trafficking.

“When I think about it I begin to cry,” Roopa said.

Click here to read more.

*Originally published August 2012.

George Thomas

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