Sex Trafficking Recovery – Bihar, India

The child survivors of sex trafficking at Punarnawa’s Shelter in Bihar, India are suffering from its devastating traumatic effects. Please help fund the development of a trauma program and training with psychotherapists and trauma experts, Dr. Sahar Bhaloo and Beth Nielsen, M.A. by donating to Lotus Circle International.


Free The Slaves

Free The Slaves (FTS) has invited myself, Beth Nielsen (California, USA), Lotus Circle International founder and trauma therapist, and Dr. Sahar Bhaloo (Mumbai, India), psychologist and global mental health consultant, to offer staff and residents of the shelter cutting edge clinical training, consultation and treatment in somatically-based psychotherapeutic work that will facilitate trauma healing and empowerment.

Residents are experiencing severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress and are in need of skilled psychotherapy support for trauma recovery. The highly dedicated staff of this clinic includes one mental health caseworker with limited clinical training and others who provide practical and logistical support to the caseworker.  FTS and the staff themselves have recognized the critical need to recruit a qualified mental health counselor for the recovery home, but no one has been willing to come to live in this remote area.

This project is aimed at providing in-depth training to the case worker as well as other shelter staff, in trauma-healing skills which will help the girls suffering with symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTSD), as well as the staff experiencing vicarious traumatization.


We will be sharing our expertise by offering two weeks of training, consultation, program development, and treatment to staff and the women and girls. Trainings will focus on trauma healing and empowerment with a psycho-biologically based therapy known as Somatic Experiencing, as well as other trauma focused methods.


Sex traffickers target young people who are desperate for a better life, as well as families that find it hard to feed their children. In 2004, Free the Slaves began a major program to eradicate trafficking from Bihar, India, where the population of over 83 million, are among the poorest in the world. The field staff soon confronted the traumatic effects of trafficking on the lives of girls and young women and the lack of capacity to address their needs. In 2010 they helped to open the Punarnawa shelter for trafficking survivors near Purnea. The shelter serves over 25 women and girls, all of who suffer from the persistent and devastating effects of trauma from sex trafficking. The women and girls frequently experience post-traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and hypervigilance in addition to emotional and physical symptoms including muscle pain/tension, stomach pain and other gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and other ailments unexplained by medical causes.

The shelter offers residents, who stay for approximately 12 months, a comprehensive program that includes shelter, legal assistance, medical care, emotional and psychological recovery, education vocational skills training and help in accessing economic entitlements. Women are also encouraged and supported to participate in advocacy on behalf of themselves and other trafficking survivors.

The shelter focuses strongly on the promotion of economic independence, an understanding of human and civil rights, and an atmosphere of shared work and equality.

Residents are continuing to suffer without the treatment they desperately need, and for some, the PTSD is becoming chronic and debilitating, preventing them from re-establishing a productive life.

Please help these women and girls take full advantage of the opportunity to recover by helping us provide them with the treatment they need.


Dr. Sahar Bhaloo, is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in Global Mental Health in traumatized and underserved populations; immigrants, refugees, asylees, trafficking victims and survivors of torture and gender-based violence. She has served as a consultant in post war Sri Lanka with internally displaced survivors of the civil war and in India with tele-mental health in rural populations. Dr. Bhaloo has also collaborated on the creation of a manualized training for local clinicians treating post war trauma in Rwanda and on a paraprofessional community health worker training manual for work with mental health medical clinic establishment and development initiative for the treatment of gender-based violence crimes in Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo. She also has a research background in the study of immigrant Acculturation, Acculturative Stress and Stigma. Dr. Bhaloo spent the first 18 years of her life in Cote D’Ivoire West Africa before moving to Canada and then the US to complete her graduate and post-graduate degrees in clinical psychology. Dr. Bhaloo currently lives in India working on gender based violence and stigma reduction. This child trafficking work with Free The Slaves is an especially a crucial area of work in creating a hopeful future for young women in India exposed to gender-based violence.

Beth Nielsen is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and founder of Lotus Circle International (LCI), a U.S. based nonprofit whose mission is to assist underserved populations affected by violence, disasters, and adversity by providing somatically based (mind-body) training and treatment for trauma resolution.  Beth maintains a private practice in San Francisco, CA and has been a Senior Assistant and Consultant with the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute for 13 years. She has helped train hundreds of therapists in Somatic Experiencing, a psycho-physiologically based method of healing trauma. Her passion for this work lead her into the field of Global Mental Health and in 2005, she helped organize a four-year post Tsunami trauma recovery project in Tamil Nadu with Trauma Vidya ( In 2009 she founded LCI, and initiated a Women’s Empowerment Project in collaboration with Auroville Village Action Group (Tamil Nadu, India) aiding NGO staff and local village women affected by gender-based violence. In 2013 she assisted in another Trauma Vidya project in collaboration with Don Bosco, offering an Integral Trauma Resolution Training in Sri Lanka for counselors and other NGO staff with post war trauma.

She has also consulted on or participated in other trauma training and recovery projects in Kigali, Rwanda, and in Beijing, China.

To learn more about Beth and her work you may visit her website at To reach her directly you may phone her at (415) 359-5597 or email her at

Our Approach

The development of a trauma sensitive recovery program at the shelter will start with two weeks of training in a cutting edge psycho-physiological (mind-body) method of healing post traumatic stress, and training for all staff in basic counseling skills, case management skills, documentation training, as well as training for incorporating trauma healing principles in all daily activities. We also plan to provide ongoing consultation for continued program development and clinical support. Both staff and residents will be taught to utilize these skills to stabilize themselves when they feel emotional and physical distress. This is a holistic approach that empowers people from the inside out.


Monies raised will be used to cover basic expenses for arranging trauma specific training by expert consultants (including airfare, basic lodging upon arrival, ground transportation, and food). Additional monies raised will go to support general operating expenses for Lotus Circle International, as well as future trainings and consultations for the Punarnawa Shelter or other LCI projects for underserved populations worldwide.

You can also help us by spreading the word about this project and using the Indiegogo sharing tools! Please help us bring these girls and staff the vital resources and support they need so they can return to their homes and lead productive and healthy lives!

In peace,
Beth Nielsen

© Copyright 2014 Lotus Circle International