Sunday, December 27, 2009


December 15, 2009

Things at the office are always busy, always crazy. There is forever work to be done; justice to be sought. But today proved to have a refreshing break from the normal duties our days usually hold. At Christmastime, our office usually participates in all the Christmas parties at the aftercare homes we work with. Our aftercare department is bustling with excitement with gifts spread out everywhere for the rescued girls, as the social workers wrap and sort them.

Today I had the privilege to attend one of the parties at one of the homes in which several of our girls reside. I had read and seen the cases, reports and photos of some of these girls, and even written up stories about them; finally I got to see where they lived their lives.

We set out around 3pm, swiftly making our way to the home and having favor with the traffic. We eventually arrived at the gate of the home, which was on a hectic and busy street. The guard opened the gate, allowing our entrance. As we drove down the narrow road, I suddenly forgot that I was still in a city of millions of people. Trees and foliage were abounding, creating a sanctuary around the many buildings that housed hundreds of children and teenagers from all different situations and backgrounds. The sounds of honking and traffic quickly disappeared as an overwhelming sense of peace stole its place. After a few minutes, we came across the building in which our girls lived and unloaded the gifts, snacks and guitar. A few of the girls immediately came out to greet us with smiles on their faces, helping us carry in the parcels. Our arrival came at just the right time for afternoon tea, a daily occurrence here. A few aftercare staff members from our office were already there and we waited several minutes for one more to arrive.

Finally, the time came to assemble for the “party.” The bell was rung and the girls began to gather in the large room adjacent to their building. We stood by the door as they filed into the room decorated with tinsel and balloons. Names were exchanged, which was the extent of our knowledge of their language. We gathered everyone in a large circle, with about thirty girls sitting on the floor.

The first game that we played intrigued me. Little pieces of paper were passed out with words written on them such as “faith,” “hope,” “peace,” and “love.” The girls were to one by one explain what that word meant to them. They were shy at first, not wanting to share. But as we went around the circle, they started feeling more comfortable. Much of it was not in English, which made me focus on their faces, looking into their eyes. I couldn’t help but begin to wonder. How many of these girls had never experienced pure, unconditional love? How many of them have yet to have peace or joy in their lives? Some of them had glimmers in their eyes, with the most beautiful smiles. Others had eyes that lacked any sign of life at all. One girl stared off as the other spoke about what hope meant to her. What was she thinking about? What horrific memories were forever etched in her mind? The girls were on all different levels of healing from the brutal atrocities they lived through; a process that I cannot begin to fathom.

The next activity was to break out the guitar and sing some songs. Our aftercare director sang a beautiful song and then it was my turn, along with a fellow intern, Ashley. We were requested to sing the butterfly song. Every child who has grown up in church has heard the butterfly song, but these girls had never heard it. The lyrics were translated for them and we proceeded to sing. They fixed their attention on us as the words were sung, “For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile. You gave me Jesus and you made me your child, but I just thank you Father for making me me.” These girls were no longer children, many of them approaching adulthood. But they were still children of God. Their innocence may have been stripped from them, but they were still beautiful in the sight of God.

The more serious time transitioned into a fun time of dancing. Ashley and I had learned some choreography to a popular musical in the US.  We were aware of the tremendous skill these girls had in dancing compared to our desperate attempts at hip hop. Despite this, many of the girls were too shy to come up and dance with us. We finally convinced a few to learn it and they followed our lead, many of them eventually warming up to us. Then came the time of testing when they broke out their own music. Their bodies moved with such grace and fluidity in ways I don’t think I’ll ever be able to imitate. But we tried, and they found it quite entertaining.

To top the night off, we had some amazing snacks, as the girls giggled and talked. The camera that Ashley brought was quite the attraction as the continuous flow of flashes helped light up the room. Even though we could not communicate extensively, the girls seemed to enjoy our presence as we did theirs. As I looked around the room, I almost could not believe I was there. What a privilege to be in a room so full of grace, redemption and hope.

As we began to head out the door, one of the girls requested that we let her do some henna on our arms. I had never had it done before though it is quite a popular here. I certainly wanted my first experience to be with these girls. As she took my hand into hers, she began making lines and curves and swirls on my arm. I didn’t know what the end result would look like, but trusted her. After about ten minutes, I finally saw her design. I had beautiful flowers and leaves drawn on my arm extending down onto my hand and two of my fingers. It was beautiful, just like the artist who drew it.

We finally said our goodbyes, promising we would return to visit again soon. It was dark by now and we headed down the small hill, back to the reality of the city. The gate was again opened for us, this time for our departure and we headed home.

It was a good day. A day of just being. Being with girls who have had experiences I could never imagine. Nonetheless, they were still giggling, silly girls, just like me. I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to return, but I hope it is soon.  

No comments:

Post a Comment