Dariana is one of several girls currently in our care in the Round Home — a recovery center in the Philippines for girls trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. She is 12 years old. This is her story in her words.
“I grew up with different guardians. My mother left me in the custody of her midwife when I was still a baby. She never came back. A friend of hers told me that my mother committed suicide and died in 2011. She told me that my mother could not bear her problems anymore, so she committed suicide. During all the years of my life, I never had the chance to know her.
I am an illegitimate child. That’s why she didn’t have the courage to take care of me. I knew about it because I was there during the last wake of my mother. She really has a family of her own and they are older than me. In my entire life, the only chance that I had to see my mother was that little time. I saw her laid inside her coffin, and because of it, I never had the chance to know who my father is.
When my mother was still alive, I was on good terms with her siblings. But when she passed away, they changed, especially my older sister Lora. She told me that I have no right to eat in their house anymore because I am not her relative. I also received physical punishment from Lora.
But I have another adopted brother named Vincent, who always defends me when Lora seems to be punishing me again. I also have my step-siblings Julia and Yarina. They are good to me. They sometimes give me allowance and help with my projects in school. My teacher noticed that I often go to school without things and I cannot pass my projects. My teacher was concerned about me, so they called the Philippines Department of Social Welfare & Development about me.
I started to mingle with peers when I was 11 years old. Me and Eva were already friends since childhood. Whenever I had a problem at home, I run away with my friends in the city and spend the night there with my friends. We engage in drinking and others were smoking, but we didn’t use drugs.
Just recently, my friend Deborah told me and Eva that there is a Mr. Isaac who gives money in exchange for his touching us. Deborah invited us to accompany her. When we went inside Mr. Isaac’s house, he closed all the windows and doors. Afterwards, he gave Deborah Php 150.00 ($3.39). We used it to buy food. Then, Mr. Isaac once saw me and he suddenly grabbed me inside his room, but I went out of the house.”
It is with sadness that we listen as Dariana tells us her story. The Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development intervened shortly after Dariana’s commercial sexual exploitation at the hands of Mr. Isaac and referred her to us in March of 2014. We wasted no time beginning our journey towards recovery her.
“I thank God that I am in the Round Home now. I don’t have to bother about food and education. When I entered this center, I began to feel safe. I want to finish my studies, so I can help those people who helped me despite my history.”