Work begins promptly every day at 9:00 AM with communal devotion and prayer. “Any updates from yesterday or prayer requests?” our director will always ask. Usually the list grows as several staff members present their news and requests. Bail was denied yesterday to four perpetrators and therefore they will remain in jail throughout their trial. Today one of our victims will be testifying in court. Tonight some of our operatives will be investigating a brothel. This week we are working on some structural changes in one of the aftercare homes. The list could go on and on. We fervently present our requests to God and move on into a half hour of personal stillness time. I clear my mind and gain spiritual strength as I get ready to begin the day’s work.
As the communications intern my tasks are various, with much focus on writing stories. The stories remind us of why we do what we do. When discouragement comes, and it usually comes daily, we can look at the victories we have won. That is what pushes us forward. Before I arrived here, I had heard stories of girls who were victims of sex trafficking. But after I arrived and began to sort through files and files of documents, I never could have imagined the details I read about. From home inquiry and police reports to victim statements and photos, the details began to come together and form in my head. Oftentimes, the stories are not complete. Maybe the perpetrator still has not received just punishment. Maybe the victim now has to live with HIV/AIDS, or she is still facing severe emotional problems from the trauma. There is never a fairy tale ending. But there is one thing the stories never lack: hope. No matter where the stories begin or end, love, justice and hope are always interwoven throughout them. The victim no longer has to suffer brutal abuse in a brothel. She will no longer be raped by strange men countless times a day. Futures begin to change as opportunities for an education and vocation are now available to our girls. There are always victories, large or small, that must be celebrated.
The day usually wraps up around 6:00 PM, oftentimes later. Our work must be continued in the morning. I take a back way home, as it is quieter. I walk past the neighborhood boys playing a game of soccer or cricket and the women in their saris and tennis shoes doing their daily power walk. There is never a lack of things to observe as I reflect on the past day. Correspondence with home or a run at the neighborhood gym are often nightly things that keep me going. “Auntie,” a Hindu woman in our neighborhood, cooks us traditional food for dinner most weeknights. My American taste buds are getting used to the delicious spices abounding in all the food, with some that occasionally make ones eyes water.
Sleep is usually much anticipated after long days. As I doze off, I can still hear the plethora of sounds in the neighborhood through my open window. “Is this really my life God? This crazy, amazing life in a foreign land?” I can hear the faint sound of chanting and prayer music coming from the Muslim mosques in the early hours of the morning. Worship to gods that do not exist. I reflect on the majesty of my own God, my living God. My life and work seem somewhat insignificant in comparison.
The classic question arises in my head: “What difference am I really making God? How can such small daily tasks make any difference in the brutal world of sex trafficking?” Then I can hear his gentle answer:
“Because I go before you. Trust me, and obey.”