Many people think of child trafficking and exploitation in general or abstract terms. Perhaps it’s to avoid focusing on the details to protect our own peace of mind and hearts from breaking, or perhaps it’s simply due to a lack of awareness. But in Love146 safe homes, the appalling consequences of child trafficking and exploitation brutally confront us everyday.
First, there are the lab tests: positive for Hepatitis B, a sexually or blood transmitted disease that attacks the liver.
With mixed incredulity and revulsion, you look at this frail ten-year-old boy — who looks more like a stunted six-year-old. Him? Hepatitis B? Images of what was done to him invade your mind and indeed threaten to ruin your sanity. But that’s not all, there’s more. He’s also positive for tuberculosis. The picture is now as ugly as it gets. It’s a tightrope balancing intervention. Then we find out he has a sexually transmitted infection which must be dealt with again and again. Occasionally he has pneumonitis. His nutrition needs to be monitored. Physical intervention has to happen on an hourly basis.
His emotions and behavior are an entirely different struggle altogether. He manifests the turmoil going on inside him daily.
He acts in ways that are obviously a manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder, as if uncontrollably announcing to the world, “Look at what was done to me.”
For a few hours during the day, he is steady. He thanks the staff for all of their sacrifices and patience and talks about the future.
We employ patience and creativity in dealing with this hurting child: constant counseling and listening, activities to release his energy, lessons in art and music, guidance on how to be productive through farming and other income-generating industries, constant praise for his good behavior and talents, affirmation of his potential for good, focus on the positives of the “here and now,” as well as joyous orientation towards the future, and love, love, love, and more love. These are all working together to help him recover — to help him realize that he has a new purpose in life.
He now goes to school and shows us the high marks that he has earned for the day. He has produced excellent drawings that depict his new surroundings and express his changed feelings. He plays the banduria, a string instrument similar to the guitar. He sings in a church choir. He diligently follows his prescribed nutrition and has gained weight.
We still sometimes struggle with his “outbursts” of trauma.
But such struggles are now few and far between. He has affirmed our faith — the only dependable weapon we had at the beginning — that love mends all, even those human beings seemingly beyond recovery.
HELP MORE STORIES LIKE HIS BECOME A REALITY