Sunita, or Su, as we often call her, was born in a village several hours outside of Bombay. Her family grows rice and keeps buffalos to support themselves. Though you wouldn’t know by looking into Sunita’s soft and sparkly eyes, she is no stranger to hardship and struggle. Life is difficult in the village. Sunita’s mother, Suman, had 12 children and Su is one of 5 children that survived. Su was born healthy, but one day, when Su was about 6 months old, Su was left with her grandmother (Suman’s mother-in-law) while her mom was out working in the fields. Unbeknownst to Suman, Su was left unattended for hours and hours, locked in the house. When Suman returned, she found Su unconscious and on the verge of death. Suman quickly picked her daughter up and started by foot on the 10 kilometer journey to the nearest hospital. Su was hospitalized for 6 days where again she fought against abuse and neglect yet made a full recovery.
Like many village children Su worked alongside her mother helping to collect firewood, plant/harvest rice, carry water, and keep the home. Somehow, in the midst of this schedule, Su made time to go to school and enjoyed learning. Life was a struggle but Su remembers those times of her youth as joyful; the whole family in their one room hut living simply but together. Unfortunately, the family needed money and at age 9, Su was sent to the city to be a domestic servant. You can only imagine how scary it was for this little 9 year old girl to leave her family and go alone to the city to live with a family that saw her as nothing but a servant. She was so simple and innocent…she had never seen a fridge, a gas stove, or a toilet. With no room for herself she had to wait until the family went to sleep and then she slept alone on the floor of the living room. She learned to cook, clean, and care for the child of the house to her “employers” satisfaction.
At such a young age, her life transformed from wide-open rice fields and family togetherness to a solitary life in the constraints of an apartment 24 hours a day. But you will never hear Su complain or speak badly of her “employer.” Instead she says, with a thankfulness so genuine it has to be true, that she is thankful to her employer because she allowed her to study and if it wasn’t for her she would never have been in the position to meet Stephanie and have the opportunities that she has today. It takes a special individual to be so gracious, forgiving, and hope-filled. And that is exactly who Sunita is. The sweetest spirit, most generous heart, and the brightest smile…She is the reason iSanctuary exists. And it is our hope that more women see themselves as worthy of great things, more valuable than the sum of their experiences or their background, stronger than they think and able to do immeasurably more than they can imagine.
That is why–For a girl, born in an Indian village, against the odds–with no birth certificate and no “proper” education– to go to AMERICA on a Business Visa for the organization that she helped create—this is such a big deal!!!