Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tried to Save Her Family and Ended Up Trafficked | Stories from My Refuge House

This post was written by my dear friend Crystal. Crystal is what I feel like Mother Theresa was like when she was in her 30's. True story. She is the Executive Director of My Refuge House, a girls home in the Philippines. (You might recognize the name because Becoming partners w/them!) The home cares for 12 girls who have been saved or rescued from sex-trafficking.   Below is a nutshell of what she does and why she does it. -JM

If you've become recently aware of human trafficking, you may be asking something like, “How do those kids get trafficked anyway?” 

And I would give you semi-cryptic answer like “Well, there are various common scenarios.” 

Unfortunately, that answer doesn't even come close to the glaring and horrific realities of sex trafficking. But I find often find myself resistant to creating stereotypes by explaining a common path, so I give a couple of fairly generic and common scenarios and leave it at that.

However, I can tell you this: Of the girls who have lived at My Refuge House, a full 95% were trafficked by someone they knew: a neighbor, a cousin, a classmate. (Click to tweet!)

And 100% of them were behind in their education and the majority of them were trying to  help supplement their family’s daily needs. (Tweet that fact!) 

Brave, Sweet Jacky* stood up at the blessing of our new home and told her story last month. 

Quivering chin, she read through the entire speech she carefully prepared. It involved dropping out of school because of poverty, trying to find work to help support 5 younger siblings, false representation about a job opportunity and isolation from anyone who could protect her.  

She began with, "I hope you will find meaning from my story."  You will. I promise. 
She continued:
When I was a child, I’ve been through a lot of challenges and problems. I have so many siblings who never had the chance to go to school or finish our studies.  I came from a very poor family and my parents didn’t have enough money to send us all to school. I stopped my studies when I was in grade 3 and my parents didn’t search for a way to re-enroll me, so I never went back. Over the years, I witnessed poverty in our very own home and so I decided to find a job myself.
One day, a woman came to our place and offered me a job to work in Manila as an internet café attendant. We were promised it was a good job in Manila and they left money for my parents which also motivated me to work and take advantage of the job opportunity. All I was thinking about at that time was that I will be helping my parents and somehow, someway, will save my family from poverty.   
I told my parents to use that initial payment that they gave us for my sibling’s schooling and they agreed– as long as my siblings had the opportunity to study, I was happy.
We stopped first in Cebu and we were about to leave for Manila, but I was very shocked because there were policemen all over the place asking us about our trip and our purpose of going to Manila. I just told them, “I will work in an internet café there”. All of a sudden, they escorted us, gave us food and brought us to Social Services.  
I was really afraid and scared that time that I might not be able to see my family again. Then I learned it was a rescue conducted by International Justice Mission (IJM).
After we stayed at Social Services for few weeks, our Social Workers brought us here at My Refuge House. This is where I experienced studying again after a very long time of being out-of-school. I am very happy because after 2 years of staying here, I am able to finish my elementary through the Angelicum Home School. Now, I’m in my 1st year in High School and I am hoping to finish my studies here.
November of 2012, I received a very shocking bad news. My mother died because of pregnancy complications. She died without me by her side. I was confused what to do that time. 
We went to the public hospital and I saw my mother’s dead body lying on a bed. I didn’t know what to do when I saw the nurse covering my mother’s body with a white cloth. I was crying all the time with my father. I really felt that God wasn’t there or if He was, he wasn’t that close to me. 
I questioned Him why of all people He gave that challenge to me. This situation was very sad for me and for my family but it didn’t give me the reason not to know Him better. After a while I realized that God won’t give me problems I cannot solve or carry. I learned not to give up. I went back to My Refuge House and continued my studies.
I’ve been here for 2 years and 4 months and I learned to know more about God. I am very grateful because through our spiritual activities I have deepened my relationship and faith in God. I realized that the job I was hoping to have in Manila wasn’t right.  I used to regret being trafficked and rescued  but now I realized that because of that event, I was brought here to My Refuge House. That event made me the person I am right now. I was given the kind of love, care and provision that I haven’t experienced before. My life has been changed and I will always be thankful for that. 
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Jacky is one story. One girl. A real girl whose broken life was made beautifully mosaic by the love and grace of God, through the hands and feet and hearts of the men and women who built and live within the walls of that home.

That's amazing.
"I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will not smell a savor or take delight in your solemn assemblies. Though you offer Me your burnt offerings and your cereal offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I look upon the peace or thank offerings of your fatted beasts. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice run down like waters and righteousness as a mighty and ever-flowing stream."
Amos 5:21-24

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*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved in this story.

WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING? This month we are planting two specific seeds of faith. It's the easiest first step. Will you plant with us?
Click to give your donation of $5, $10, or $20 via My Refuge House's super secure and tax deductible site. (Link provided)
You have a voice. A powerful voice that has been given powerful tools in this decade. We need you to talk about this to your peeps. Tell them you found something small they can start with to change the world!  
We have custom Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pics just for you over here. 
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If you want to get more involve or more info about My Refuge House, visit their website or send Crystal a tweet!
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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