A friend in a different country who also works with trafficked women wrote the other day that she'd been to the States recently and was part of a forum on trafficking there. She said that seeing it from the American perspective really brought the realities of what trafficked girls go through home to her heart again in fresh way. She realized that she had let her heart become a bit calloused to the plight of the women where she is located.
She got me thinking about the balancing act that we attempt in our day to day lives of keeping our hearts soft and open to those around us, yet not letting the realities that they face tear us up so much that they keep us from functioning. Walking that wire here is harder than I thought it would be. The reason? Because when the faces are people that you know it's so much more personal. And the longer we are here the more we're aware of the underbelly of the city as well.
For example, there's an eleven year old girl that I've come to love. Her name is Puja and she's homeless and basically alone. She gets picked up by a bus 5 mornings a week and is fortunate to go to a school that takes a percentage of kids off of the street. Then she comes home and carries a basket around a large market selling hair clips, nail polish, etc. in the afternoons to make money. She's got a cheerful, precocious personality and speaks English well because of her school. Tourists love her.
Sounds like she's in a difficult circumstance but is making the most of it, right? That's true. But here's the reality that she lives: while she's not living in a brothel, statistics of street children in this city say there's no way that she hasn't been trafficked on the side by some adult around. There's no way that she hasn't been raped and generally abused. When you look close she has burn scars to prove it.
I have no answer for how to untangle her life! I've offered to try to get her into the hostel that I know her school operates, but she doesn't want to for some reason. I can be kind, offer her friendship, buy things from her, share with her how I live my life, but at the end of it I go back home to my family and she's on the street alone. Her situation is far from uncommon here.
I have daughters who I'm teaching to be pure until marriage but for thousands of mothers in my neighborhood that is an unrealistic option. Not necessarily because of loose morals on the part of their girls, but because in tight communal living and in an atmosphere of people just trying to survive (plus it being a red light area) the odds are that someone will use their daughters before then. They just do their best to look after them and hope that their daughters won't be trafficked away from them into full-time usage.
Behind the scenes knowledge makes walking the wire of compassion difficult. It's also hard when the sufferer has a face that you know and care about.
But the man who walked on water was described as 'a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief' (Is. 53:3) He knows EVERYTHING behind the scenes. And to Him EVERYONE who suffers has a much beloved face....
I can't even imagine His pain.