I woke up this morning to a blasting alarm. Opening my eyes, I looked out the window to see it was still pitch black outside. I usually hate waking up when it’s still dark, however today and most weekdays lately, have been an exception. I walked down the hall to a room where our sweet princesses were freshly showered and getting ready for school. Though still wiping the sleep from the corner of my eyes, a massive smile spread across my face as I took each girl in my arms. We are obsessed with loving them.
Later it’s breakfast and backpacks and then the bus takes them to school, no longer facing a day of hunger and servicing of clients, these girls adore their studies. As I grab a few more cups of tea, my team and I make the plans to visit another one of our little princesses. This situation is different though.
This daughter does not live in our home. Her, like dozens of other girls we’re committed to, still stays in the village as we work with her and her family in sponsorship, mentorship and attempt to shift a culture with education and a lot a lot of love.
Her story takes a few more deep breathes to conquer as she is still in process. Her sister is a prostitute. Night after night the woman brings men home, wakes up our beloved and tells her to switch beds. Our sweet one then gets up and climbs under the covers with her siblings, trying to fall back sleep as her sister satisfies customers in the bed next to hers. She hears everything. She sees everything.
Our young, beautiful one’s raw environment seemed to paint a target on her forehead that eventually traffickers appeared drawn to her and had started pimping her out. Uh, our hearts. How do you deal? Just barely 13 years old, her story is not just of one but dozens. In a culture where “children and sex” share the same phrase on a normal day, we take a moment to refocus our gaze and remember it’s not impossible.
Today our schedule was sitting with her in a waiting room after she was screened for STIs. (Sexually Transmitted Infections) Her tests came out clean and we tried to convince her again of the dangers that lay in sex with strangers.
Later that night we heard more rape stories. More accounts of abuse and more brothels that bind young women in a sexual nightmare. But as we discuss the rounds of exploitation we can’t help but start to shift the conversation.
It’s who we are. It starts with a brothel and grows to a dream. Freedom! Liberty! Love’s perfect invasion! We start to hear the cry of heaven screaming louder than the threats of injustice:
“Ask for it. Ask for the transformation…”
Soon where tears had just rolled, a laugh escapes. It starts out small but then followed by a sequence of others you can’t hold it back. We win! We will dream for more and we WILL see girls rescued and brothels shut down!
And so it doesn’t end there. It can’t. Later on we stuff some cash in our pocket and our phone down our shirts and while others climb into bed, we climb onto a motorbike to head to the strip clubs to bring action to the dreams.
So often we talk about “abolition” and sex-trafficking or slavery. But sitting with our sweet princesses, talk isn’t enough.
Walking into the clubs we’re looking for children. Looking for the babies who are hidden under thick make-up and short skirts.
We sit with a beautiful girl named Cecelia and she starts to cry as we share what love really looks like.
In the moment it feels so ordinary.
Nothing is impossible. Nothing is too big. All it takes is love and action. That we would be a generation that moves from great ideas and discussions to the dirty bars and packed out street corners. Love in action. The unqualified, now qualified by love!
At home our babes lie peacefully in bed. Success. Tomorrow we’ll wake up and do it again. Giants taken down with simple stones. Love. Justice. ACTION. Never underestimating the power of our “yes” and the simplicity of a child with a slingshot.