A few weeks ago, I was able to visit some of our field projects in Asia. The trip culminated in a wedding that took place in the Love146 Round Home. The bride was a survivor of sex trafficking who moved forward from the home (was reintegrated) last year. The bridesmaids were survivors from the Round Home-- all dressed flawlessly in the pinkest of pinks (including hot pink eye shadow, of course!). One of the most cherished moments of the day was watching the girls become giddy over catching the bouquet... a scramble of laughter and energy that was pure joy to be a part of.
After the wedding, we got an unexpected privilege to sit in the safe home with the girls for a few minutes.
To my left fellow visitors sat with one of the new mothers in the home, cradling and cooing at the baby. Across the room sat a group of girls, talking amongst themselves, casting us an occasional reserved gaze. Dr. Gundelina Velazco, our Director of Aftercare, went and sat with them. To my right gathered a group of girls still buzzing, perhaps at having guests in the home, and certainly with a degree of post-nuptial glee. As I entered they quickly squeezed an open spot for me on the sofa with them.
I asked the girls what their favorite part of the day was, one girl responded that it was the couple’s first dance. They asked me if I was married; I told them no. They asked where I was from, I told them briefly about Florida, and Connecticut, the places I’ve lived. One girl boldly said, “You know, I got to meet Paramore.” I then got a run down on exactly who’d met Haley Williams. I naturally expressed my jealousy.
Then another girl asked, “How many Love146 girls are there in America?”
I was caught off guard, “What do you mean?”
“How many Round Homes in America?”
Oh, right. I get that question quite a bit...
“Well, there’s just one Round Home for now, so you’re the only Round Home girls in the world.” They swapped grins at their unique status.
“But... I guess there are lots of Love146 girls actually.... Girls who believe in freedom and love... who have difficult days, and who can borrow hope and joy from you all. You in the Round Home give encouragement and healing to so many people, including me. Dr. Velazco sends us stories from the Round Home, and I get to share those stories with other people. The love and hope you all share is enough for many many Love146 girls all over the world. So there are lots of Love146 girls.”
There was a pause marked by puzzled smiles.
“But how many?”
“Um...” My mind rolled back through our Facebook and Twitter fans, financial partners, blog readers, and Task Force members.
“At least... twenty thousand?”
Giggling and shrieks ensued.
So this blog’s dedicated to ALL of the thousands of Love146 girls (and guys) out there-- we’re in this movement of Love together.