A couple of weeks ago, something different happened. I spoke at a youth event called Generation Conference, where over 1000 young people gathered. The organizers gave each of the young people attending, a Love146 tag to wear as a reminder of a young girl who we know only by number, and the thousands she represents. To see her number worn by so many people was quite moving.
In the midst of a lot of commotion at the Love146 table after I spoke, a girl wearing the number 146 pinned to her shirt walked up to me with tears running down her face. She just simply stared at me, unable to speak. She reverently reached for the number which was pinned over her heart, and placed her hand over it. She wrapped her fingers around the number, clutching it with desperation as if she was trying to reach through time to that young girl in the brothel who wore the same number years ago. She closed her eyes and wept. Was she picturing herself reaching out to hold that young girl who still had a fight left in her eyes? Was she picturing herself pulling “146” out of that glass prison called a brothel?
I was speechless. After what seemed like an eternity, the only words I eventually came up with were; “Thank you.” We both knew. We both understood that this is not the way it was supposed to be for children. And I think we both walked away more determined than ever to change that.