This last month while in rural Benin with our anti-trafficking team, a young girl age twelve got our attention. Gladis (not her real name) had been waiting patiently for us to get done with our work and to notice her. I am not sure how many hours she stood near us, but once our team realized she was waiting to talk with us, Gladis was given our undivided attention.
With tears in her eyes, she began to tell her story of how three months ago her father sold her to a man in his 60’s to be his 9th wife. Gladis shared horrible details about how day in and day out, one of the wives would sit on her chest while this man would severely abuse her sexually and physically. Gladis said she thought she was going die. Nevertheless, she made her narrow escape to a fragile freedom, only three days prior to meeting us. Gladis immediately called her uncles who work in two different neighboring African countries, and they came to her aid by getting the police and medical professionals involved. They were able to press charges and get the so-called husband put in jail for his abusive criminal behavior. Gladis’ father fled for fear that he would also be arrested, but told her as he was fleeing that he did not feel sorry for her, and that he was going to get her married off, whether she liked it or not. Sadly this man had no affection for his daughter. The uncles were begging us to please take her to a safe place to keep her protected because they had to return to work in their countries, and were not able to take her with them. Therefore, they feared for her life.
In talking with the social workers in that area, they refused to get involved with what they called a “domestic dispute”. Currently, Gladis is being protected, while we are working on a long-term solution for Gladis.
Trafficking comes in many forms, and this early marriage practice is simply another form of exchanging money for the use of enslaving a child. Together with you, we have rescued numerous girls from similar situations, and we will continue to do so through our anti-trafficking work until this practice comes to an end. We know that God has a beautiful redemption story happening in this young girl’s life as well as those we’ve already helped.
As appalling as some of these stories are to hear, there are also incredibly beautiful things unfolding right in front of us. I force myself to look for this beauty all around because I do not want to let the amazing things happening to slip by without acknowledging them. The miraculous is taking place on a daily basis as we push forward in partnership with each of you.
Our Micro-Finance Program Leads to Beauty and Success
One of my regular highlights is spending time with the ladies on our micro-finance program. At one of the gatherings I stood in the back of the open-air structure, so that I would not be a distraction while our anti-trafficking team led the business part of the meeting. While standing, I noticed little children sitting around large baskets of food and eating freely out of them. Their mothers faced forward with their backs to their kids, in order to be attentive to the meeting. I then realized these baskets were filled with the consumables that the ladies sell for their businesses. The mothers did not seem worried at how much these children were eating, and did not look back, not even once, at their child to scold or manage their intake. As I watched this, it suddenly dawned on me that these are the very same women who had been selling their children because they did not have enough food to feed their families. They were at a very desperate stage when we first put them on our program. Now, they had surplus in their baskets, and their little ones were eating to their hearts content. I could not believe what I was seeing. This was a true miracle! Thank you for making these stories a reality through your prayers and giving. Together, this is what success and true beauty looks like.
As summer has come into full swing, and vacation mode has set in for many families, we have seen a huge drop in our donations over the last couple of months. Our financial status is at a critical place where we need a few miracles of our own to take place to keep our programs afloat. Would you please keep us in your prayers, and possibly consider sending an extra financial gift at this time? Thank you.
Please use the Donate button to give online or mail your gift to:
Orphan Relief and Rescue 1416 SW 151st St., Burien, WA 98166