The pictures of the girls stick with me.
Not because they look all that different from my own daughters, but precisely because they look so much like my own daughters. It’s very easy to see my own 14 year old or 10 year old in the faces of these girls that I’m going to be seeing in person in less than three months.
I’m not sure how to prepare.
I mean, I know the logistical stuff. Get the passport, immunizations, plane tickets, clothes for eastern Europe in January. Double and triple check that Jason will be around for the kids and that family members and friends will be around for him while I’m gone.
But then I look at those pictures and I feel like my preparations are for naught. Because how can I possibly prepare to meet these girls?
My fourteen year old is in the marching band. She hangs out with her friends and they talk about Doctor Who and Harry Potter. She’s working on her fourth NaNoWriMo project and she’ll spend most nights this month staying up too late, typing away at her laptop in her polar bear pj’s while she sips coffee from a big pink mug.
My 10 year old loves owls. She loves to get on Google chat with her best friend and she plays Minecraft with her brothers. She shakes her head at most “girlie” things. She loves her cousins. She recently discovered Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet and I’ll often find her hanging over her top bunk, reading through one of the books.
They might not be the most typical or privileged girls here stateside, but they don’t have a lot of lack in their lives. Parents who love them, a good education, safety.
Many of the girls in Moldova – girls the same age as my daughters – have none of those things. They have no parents, they have no education, and they certainly have no safety. Moldova’s largest export is slaves. There are tens of thousands of women trafficked out of rural Moldova. Young girls like my daughters are sold to work for pennies, and many end up in prostitution and sex work.
Instead of hanging out with friends, they are hanging out on road corners. Instead of earning an allowance for minor chores around the house, they earn next to nothing by selling their bodies. Instead of going to school and coming home to a family that loves them, they are torn from their families and sent to foreign countries as slaves with no education.
And they look like my daughters.
I am so grateful to be able to work with Children’s Hope Chest and with the young women who have been rescued from this life. Young women who have been given a second chance to get their bodies back and work to support themselves in ways that honor their creative side. Young women who are receiving therapy for years of being treated like objects and education to avoid going back into that life.
I am trying to prepare myself to share the stories of these young women who won’t have the same opportunities as my own daughters, but who will have the chance to be more like them.
I would so appreciate it if you could donate to help cover expenses for my trip to Moldova to help share the stories of these young women. Any amount is appreciated! Thank you so much!