I’m annoyed right now because I can’t internet on my phone and my computer at the same time. I want to send pictures from my phone to my computer, but the cable doesn’t work right so I have to email them to myself. But first I have to log out of the connection on my computer (which I only just FINALLY got to work), wait a minute, log into my phone (and pray that the connection works again), email the pics, then log off of my phone, wait AGAIN, and then retrieve them on my computer so I can use them on my Very Important Blog.
I suck so hard, I can’t even stand to think about it.
We walked up a muddy road. We were in one of the villages outside of Chisinau, away from the noise and busyness of the city. Helen and I were with Sergei and Olga, two of the staff members at Beginning of Life. Olga is a social worker and Sergei is an interpreter for us. We had bags of food – porridge, canned tuna, sugar, salt. Two dogs snapped at one another, chasing around a structure that can barely be called a home.
As we approached, we could see three women waiting for us outside. They stood there, not speaking with one another. Olga told us that the younger woman was a victim of trafficking, having been sold between people over two years in Turkey and Russia, because she had been told by someone she knew that she could leave Moldova to earn a significant amount of money. We were warned that as a result of her slavery and imprisonment, she suffers from severe PTSD.
This is manifested itself as she stood with her head down, staring at the ground. Maybe staring through the ground. No smiles. No engagement. Just sadness. Hopelessness.
And it was easy to see why. We entered the house that they can no longer occupy because there is no heat and it gets cold here in Moldova in the winter. But it’s not simply a lack of heat that made this space unlivable. There was nothing there but walls. The floor was filthy. There was nowhere for them to sleep, as the beds had been stolen. There was no water, no electricity, no gas. There were a few pieces of clothing strewn about the floor, and a small Bible left in the window. It hadn’t been read in some time, and in the midst of that agony, I can’t think that even those words that are called “life-giving” have much hope to offer.
We got in the car to go to visit the second girl. Sexual violence at the age of 15, just one year older than my daughter. Forced to abort a baby. A social orphan due to a father who abandoned her family and a mother who works in another country.
Another girl who has endured more heartache in her short 18 years than I could even conceive.
And yet, her story is different. When this girl went to Beginning of Life, she found hope. She didn’t encounter only words, but love. Love that fed her and housed her and taught her. The gospel that they shared with her wasn’t only of salvation for the afterlife, but salvation right now from the hell that she was enduring.
When she entered the program at BoL, she introduced herself as Erika. After her time there, she told Olga that her name was Ana Erika. Olga asked her why she had waited so long to share her name, and Ana said that when she left, she had a new life and that deserved a new name.
I want to be asleep right now. I’m tired from a long day and I have many more long days ahead of me. But I need these stories to be told. I need you to know that not every story here is good. There won’t always be a good outcome for girls who are here. Some girls are so scarred that hope isn’t something that they can imagine.
However, there are stories of hope here as well. Not big hope. Ana still lives alone. When we asked her what she wanted to do in the future, she didn’t seem to even understand the question, because dreaming isn’t something that you do when you’re in the midst of extreme poverty.
But that ember of hope remains.
A new name was available to Ana, and I pray that one awaits more women here.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.