Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do you see me?

I have heard that in some countries, in distant lands far away, three year olds like myself are learning how to decipher between their ABC's and 123's. I hear stories of loving parents- both moms and dads, play-gyms, water parks, stuffed animals, big cozy bedrooms filled with things bought or designed specifically for you, drawers overflowing with clothes, and all-you-can eat ice cream, none of which I have ever experienced and still the child in me leaps with imagination! I heard once that when it is your birthday, your parents throw you extravagant parties filled with enough food for an entire village, enough candy to go around for weeks, clowns, ponies or whatever characters you desire, and the presents, oh the presents, they pile up faster than you know what to do with them! Despite my young age, I know that fairy tales are just that, but these stories I hear of children far away I am told are not fiction they are absolutely true. Maybe it is silly but I dream of going there. Not occasionally, not every now and then, I dream of it daily.

You see, it all began one sunny afternoon during a break between classes, where my mother ventured outside school to get a snack, only to wake up in a brothel. She was just twelve years old. In the beginning she fought, and hard. She hurled punches with every ounce of her strength; screamed until her lungs felt as if they would explode. Eventually once the starvation and beatings became severe enough to fear today may be her last, she quit fighting. Then came the dreams- dreams of the police, a family member, a white knight, somebody, anybody, would brave the danger and rescue her. But, when the days became months, which turn into years, and no one comes down a tower to rescue you, you just become numb. All the while, sex-slavery begins at day one. And with every vicious thrust, innocence is shattered and a tiny piece of you dies. Pregnancy is inevitable, but the solution is unfathomable. It is not uncommon for a woman to endure multiple forced abortions. Under little, if any, anesthetic, these procedures are basically butcher jobs and the “employees” are sent back to the “office” within a few hours. Infections and complications are irrelevant to the profit margin; business must go on.

You see, where I come from, a land thousands of miles from the fairy tales I hear of, things are different. I was born into a brothel. I do not know who my father is, nor does my mother. He was just one of the clients she is forced to service on a daily basis. And I was one of the lucky survivors. I have never had my own bedroom, or my own bed. Most days you will find me either roaming the streets with other children or curled up underneath my mother's bed while she works. My imagination is my only escape. 
Our room is the size of a small closet. The air is filled with thick humidity, mildew, sweat and body odor, animals, spices and smoke. The noise, it never stills. It is a constant circle of voices; often yelling, heavy feet climbing stairs, women being paraded in and out like cattle on sale in a stockyard. There is no peace.

At night my mom tells me more of these fairy tales, these incredible visions of life in that distant land, she tells me we will go there someday, and I want to believe her, sometimes I almost do, except I can see the tears welling up in her eyes and I know…

I want to believe, I have to believe that we are not invisible, that somebody sees us. Does anybody see us?

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

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