A member of the Love146 team in Africa reflects on presenting our “My Body is Mine” flip chart: “The children in Madagascar need to be reached because their parents aren’t talking about sexual abuse, or sexuality, with them. So kids aren’t aware of it. Even me, I was not. I didn’t know the meaning of the word “rape” until I was 15. It wasn’t until I was older when I understood what it was.
A group of four ambitious bike riders traversed the French countryside on a fundraising tour for Love146. Their grit and determination reminds us that childhood is not the only time to which these kinds of adventures should be confined, inspiring us to dust off our bikes and relive our childhoods so that trafficked children may yet have an opportunity to live theirs.
Resilience generally means the ability to bounce back or recover from trauma or difficulties. In the physical sense, resilience is the ability of a material to resume its shape, after being deformed. For the children in our care at the Love146 safe homes in the Philippines, resilience means more than that.
My first experience with this phrase is deeply etched in my mind: A young girl shared that she had met a group of people — people she thought were her friends. When things began to change, she wasn’t aware what was happening until it was too late. She said, “If only I’d known then what I know now.” These “friends” became her traffickers. They identified her vulnerability and need for connection, and they skillfully exploited it.
Giving up is never the right answer. Reevaluating, yes, reimagining, of course — but never giving up. Yet that was nearly the end result of one Volunteer Team after a year of floundering. What a mistake that would have been. They rebounded with more impact than they had considered possible. Here’s how it all went down.
Whenever we were with the children in public places, people would ask, “Who are all these children? Are they siblings?” I would say, they are cousins or they are playmates, or just ignored the question. Now I have determined that Love146 children will be called “scholars” instead of “clients” as they would be called in all the other safe homes or shelters in the Philippines. The children’s eyes lit up when they heard the word “scholar.” And as I explained why “scholar” is an appropriate term for them, I thought I saw great self-worth dawning upon their faces.