Monday, March 26, 2012

Restavek

Over 100 years after slaves were freed in this country, there is still tension between races over issues of insensitivity and equality.  Even with the remaining discomfort that exists, we can all agree that slavery no longer has a place in our society. 

Imagine if slavery was still prevalent... What if the slaves were predominately children...  Girls and boys kidnapped or sold...  Used, abused, discarded...

RESTAVEK: child slave

I would never be approached to sell my children.  I don't have to make drastic choices just to feed my family.  Unfortunately, there are so many places in this world where poverty and at times, amorality, fuel the market for child slaves. 

Mirna's Story:


Imagine your mother is attempting to sell you and your sister.  Rest assured that in the end, you will be used as a sex slave.  You are barely 14 years old, already with knowledge well beyond your years.  There is no innocence of childhood anymore.  There is poverty and only a few means of meeting your basic needs.

Safety for Mirna was her mother being caught.  Free of her mother's attempts to sell her, Mirna was reunited with her siblings at a private orphanage.  She is a beautiful young woman but her life will forever be tainted by her past experiences and lack of education.  With the help of a tutor she is working to catch up from a childhood of lost schooling.  What will her future hold?  Who will she become? 

How many Mirnas are being sold today, at this very moment? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Betrayed, Damaged, and Lost

Gates open, armed guards assess your threat level, you walk through and seconds later, the large gate slams shut with a bang behind you...  Unnerving, I wonder if I will get back out.  And I was only a guest!

The barbed-wire topped walls, large gates, armed guards, and military-style marching of the boys makes the orphanage in Guatemala an intimidating place to visit.  The smells are overwhelming--too many children, less than ideal sewage capacity, less frequent than needed hygiene--all covering me like a dense fog.

Towards the end of our day, we visit the most desperate part of the complex--the teen moms' house.  These girls are not only living the torture of being abandoned, many times because of poverty and abuse, but now they are charged with the task of raising a child in the midst of the orphan storm.  These girls have never experienced the love of family or had a nurturing environment to shape their ideals of family.  Abuse, rape, abandonment all mold their concept of a mother.  Give up on the idea that they understand the treasure that is a husband or even a faithful partner who will help to support her and raise a child in a loving home.  

These girls are broken and alone, surrounded by hundreds of other broken and alone children, who model the path that will be perpetuated.

Here is one story:


I don't know her name but she was one of the most beautiful girls living in the teen mom's house.  She hadn't spent her childhood in the orphanage.  She had beauty long hair, was healthy, and even though 7 months pregnant, radiated.  Her beauty was her fatal flaw.  This young woman had arrived at the orphanage only 3 days before we visited.  During a prostitution raid, she was arrested with two other young women and brought to the orphanage.  At 7 months pregnant, she was still being forced to work as a prostitute.  There was no mercy for her.

Being arrested might have been seen as rescue for her, a way to be free from the abuse.  Could the orphanage be a safe haven for her, better than the streets?  Unfortunately, we will never know.  Shortly after her admission to the orphanage, her "loving" mother came to produce her birth certificate.  The girl was 18, too old to be placed in the orphanage.  She would be released back to her mother and presumably back to the streets.

I wonder how desperate or demented a mother must be to sell her own child as a prostitute.  To know the abuse that occurs.  To see a beautiful young woman's spirit and soul be broken time and time again.  Alas, in areas of poverty, there are times when our ideals of human value are worth less than meeting basic needs or improving one's station in life.

I pray for this beautiful young woman frequently.  I wonder what has happened to her and her baby who is probably about 5 months old--rolling, close to sitting, eating solid food?  Where are they now?


The sad reality is that this story is repeated again and again every day all over the world--probably closer to home than we'd like to believe.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Freedom, with help from an unlikely source...

I try to follow the My Crazy Adoption blog on an almost daily basis.  I find myself engulfed with the stories about the love that is being given orphans and struggling families around the world.  Over 147 million orphans are struggling in this world to live without families.  Even more families live in poverty throughout this world. 

Meanwhile, in this country we see stories on the evening news about a teenager who was angry at her parents about her chores amongst other issues and rants on Facebook.  If only Americans fully understood how blessed we are, maybe we would all look beyond ourselves to those who suffer.

Recently, Kari Gibson (from My Crazy Adoption) blogged about the Beginning of Life program in Moldova.  Beginning of Life helps to rescue girls who are forced into prostitution and helps them to restore their lives and themselves. 

Here is Natasha's Story (from the My Crazy Adoption blog, http://mycrazyadoption.org/man-up-and-fight-against-trafficking-orphans-buy-your-tee-today/):

"PROGRAM TESTIMONIALS-

Natasha’s Story
Natasha was abandoned to an orphanage by her parents shortly after she was born. Having grown up in an orphanage, Natasha followed the footsteps of many other orphans into a technical school where she was to learn baking. One day, the director of the school invited a young man to come and meet with the girls. He developed a close relationship with Natasha, and after about two months offered her a job in Moscow. He promised to take her away from Moldova and provide her with a better job than she could dream of. She agreed. When she reached Moscow, Natasha was locked in an apartment, and began to realize that the teacher from the technical school and her boyfriend had worked together to kidnap her and bring her to Moscow. That night, she entered the sex trade. As a forced prostitute, she was raped and brutally beaten when she tried to resist. The brothel owners would torture Natasha by burning her with lit cigarettes and cutting her with knives. Natasha still has those scars today…



One night, Natasha boldly and secretly called one of her own clients for help. He was a builder from Tajikistan who took an interest in rescuing Natasha—even while using her as a prostitute. He had been afraid that Natasha’s owners would kill him if he helped her. But he acted anyway. He paid for Natasha for the entire night, and then put on her a train back to Moldova.

Natasha entered the Beginning of Life Safehouse and there she received help to overcome her fear, sense of guilt, nervousness and a emotional withdrawal. The team offered Natasha sincere love, kindness, and caring. She is now studying to become a baker, and is beginning the hard road to full healing and integration."

Please help this program do more by buying a tee-shirt.  For every shirt purchased, funds go to Haiti Home of Hope and Beginning of Life in Moldova.

Go to http://www.mycrazyadoption.org/ for more info!