My name is Aayushi Sandal. On June 23rd, 2015, I was rescued by a kind woman from the DMWSC. To me, to be rescued means to be taken away from bad people who kept me away from my mami and papa. Didi Margret helped me feel safe. Before her, I did not feel safe where I was working. I do go to school, which is in Calcutta, but when I was captured, I worked in a factory that makes shoes.
My mommy’s name is Anjali Sandal and my papa’s name is Huda Sandal. Because my papa works early in the market and because my mom cannot walk well, I must go to school on my own. My mami tells me to take a toto. The day that I was taken, I remember opening my bag and checking if I had everything for school. I was so happy with the new pencil crayons that my papa had bought me. I thought that I had forgot my Math notebook as well as my new pencil crayons at home. While looking in my bag, I did not see the big bump on the road ahead. I think the driver did not notice. He hit the bump really hard. There were so many people around us. Some books and pens fell out of my bag. I asked him to stop. He pulled over and helped me collect my things. Doing this, he was then pushed to the side by one tall man while an older girl grabbed my arm, covered my mouth and pulled me quick to a close alley. All she told me was that she needed my help at work in a shoe factory in Siliguri. I did not know where Siliguri is. Although I tried to let go and although I bit her arm, she still held on hard and said that if I screamed or kept trying to let go, that someone else would come and hurt me very much. I could not stop crying for my mami and papi. A few minutes later, a van came by and I was pushed into it by this girl who asked me to now call her Didi Deena.
I don’t know exactly how long I was away. I think that I worked for three or four weeks. I can’t tell you, because I could not see outside the place where I was. There was no clock on the wall and the windows were covered with black curtains. The lights were strong in the shoe factory. They hurt my eyes sometimes. I learned how to sew shoelaces into the shoes and make sure that the soles were in place. I hated working and hated sleeping there. I worked very slow. I was afraid and no one was happy around me. There was a day when I went outside with Deena. I don’t like to call her Didi, because she is not nice. She was not kind to me and never smiled. We went outside because I was feeling sick. She told me that she would take me to the doctor, but that I had to keep quiet. While in the bus, I started crying so much, because there was another mami and a little boy my age that sat together. He had a new blue and white backpack. I could tell by the ticket. This reminded me of my pencil crayons and of my own mami and papa. I started crying and could not stop. Although Deena kept telling me to stop and kept pinching me, I bit my lip and resisted. Shortly after, people started looking at me. Once an older man asked me what was wrong, I yelled out that the girl beside me was not my sister and that I was far away from my mami and papa. I did not care what would happen next. I just wanted someone to hear me and help me. As the vehicle kept moving, the driver said that he would stop at Siliguri Junction and walk with me to the police station. When we arrived, he and three other adults walked us off and spoke to the police. One of the police officers called Didi Margret, who I met that day.
While Didi Margret spoke to me, I told her where I go to school. From there, she took me to school and found out where I lived from the office people. She found my mami’s phone number and in no time, I was home again. I was so happy to see mami and papa, who both cried so much. I told them that I feel better and that I don’t want them to be sad. I am so happy that Didi Margret saved me and helped me. I have memorized her phone number and the Child Helpline number. I know that I can call her if I need anything or if I don’t ever feel safe again.
Disclaimer : The names mentioned above have been modified and have no relation whatsoever to anyone who may share the same name and who has underwent these circumstances.