I recently experienced one of the most gut-wrenching moments I have had since I first walked into that brothel 11 years ago and encountered a girl who wore the number 146.
Last spring, I came face to face with the youngest child we have ever taken into our care. She was six years old, about to turn seven. As much as I wanted to celebrate that she was now safe from harm, there was a part of me that was shattered at the realization of how young she was and what she had been through.
In addition to that encounter, we were particularly impacted by the intense struggles of one of the girls who had been through our Love146 Round Home and was recently reintegrated back into a community and was not doing well.
One morning while wrestling with the emotions that come with all of this, I found myself in a conversation at our office with Elizabeth, a friend and colleague here at Love146. All of us at Love146 often act as “sounding boards” and patient listeners for each other. Elizabeth had just recently experienced the sudden and devastating loss of a family member and has a unique perspective on grief and heartbreak.
At one point in our conversation she said:
“Maybe our story is not about victories, triumphs and fairytale endings. Maybe it is about perseverance. Maybe it’s about not giving up.”
It was like a light bulb turning on for me. I think there is an unspoken pressure for a charity to tell only the “nice” stories. The “feel-good” stories. And though there are plenty of those that we can tell, they are not the whole story. The amazing children who we have the privilege of partnering with experience highs and lows, victories and defeats, triumphs and struggles. Just like any of us. And just like any of us, their stories are not finished.
I realize that I cannot stand in front of that 6-year-old girl in our safe home or a struggling reintegrated girl and promise her, with any kind of integrity, that everything is going to be all right, or that we’re going to “fix” everything. But I can promise her that we will be in this with her for the long haul. We will keep trying. We will not give up. In reality, the children are actually teaching us this daily with their own tenacity and resilience.
So my hope is that as you continue to partner with us in our work, that you recognize that our story is not just about victories, triumphs and fairytale endings. It is about perseverance. It is about not giving up. Ever.
Thank you for your commitment to the same.