Tonight was one of those nights. A night that further solidifies my calling and purpose in the world. Also, a night I wish I could forget.
It was a wonderful relaxing day on an island off the coast of Pattaya (because volunteers and missionaries deserve a day off, too!). I went with Jenna, Taylor, and Meagan. Three ladies who give selflessly to the students of Shear Love every day, as well as other organizations fighting injustice within our city. We enjoyed Pad Thai and fruit smoothies on the sand, a dip in the clear warm Indian Ocean, and a nap under the palm trees. Good conversation with good friends and a beautiful island… what more could you ask for?
We caught the last ferry back to the city so we could soak in every last bit of this tropical paradise before heading back to the dusty main land. Slowly strolling down the pier and headed back to hop in our motor bikes (cuz we are a serious girl gang on red, pink, and yellow motos!), we felt the warm ocean evening air in our hair and lingered in the smell of the salty sea.
There was an odd amount of tourists on the pier so late in the evening. We pushed our way through the crowd and as we did, a little girl, about 4 or 5 years old, brushed passed us. She was beautiful. Cute braided pigtails and rosy cheeks. At first glance she seemed like any other adorable Thai girl squeezing through the crowd trying to find her mommy. But her mommy wasn’t far behind…
I turned again to look at her more closely and she was wearing extremely provocative clothing for her age. A leather and fur crop top, mini heels, and a full face of makeup. She carried a speaker box that seemed a bit too heavy for her. Seconds later, a younger girl, maybe 3, in a hot pink crop top, a matching mini skirt, and winged eyeliner dragging another speaker box. Sisters.
They spaced apart from each other about 10-15 feet and began playing loud techno music and dancing. Dancing that would be only appropriate for a 21 and over nightclub. People came by in droves to watch these two little sisters dance in ways that no child should.
We did as good volunteers did. We assessed the situation. Took incognito photos of each of the girls. Snapped under cover photos of their mother. Discussed amongst ourselves who be the best to report this to. Compiled our evidence and sent it off to the authorities.
Then we had to walk away.
We had to leave these sweet innocent girls. These young girls who were being exploited and made to do awful things that girls under the age of 5 should never be doing at night on a dirty pier in the world capital of child sex trafficking.
We are here to provide education and restoration for women who we have been rescued or have escaped trafficking and exploitation. While we do outreach and compile information and statistics to see women and children be rescued, we ourselves do not conduct the rescue itself. We have assisted in many rescues. However, we know our role in the fight, and never do we intend to step into a role that is beyond our knowledge or capacity.
This took me back to the day in Cambodia when I saw a little boy no older than 3 being sold. Or the many times I have seen the same 12-year-old girl being exploited by her father as she contorts herself in unspeakable ways in front of a brothel for men to gawk at. Or the little children all over the developing world being exploited through begging.
Then come the rhetorical questions…. Why can’t we do something right now? Why couldn’t I take her myself? Why didn’t I walk up to her mom and ask to buy her? She would have for sure taken my money. Why is this coldhearted woman allowing men to purchase her child? Why? Why? WHY???
On the other hand…
Why does this woman feel she can put a price on her daughters? What has happened to her to where she felt she had no other option but to sell her children? Did her mother exploit her, too? Why was she wearing rags, no shoes, and standing so far away from her girls? Why did she look so vacant? Was she not afforded an education like most women in Thailand?
I don’t know her story. I don’t know where she came from. I do not know why this mother would sell her little girls. But I do know that if she knew her daughters true value, she would never sell them. I do know that if this woman had an education, she would fight for the education of her daughters. I do know that no matter how desperate a woman with an education is, she would starve and die before seeing her children sold. She would sooner sell herself before selling her child.
My prayer for tonight is that those two girls are safe and kept from harm. I pray for this woman who was so desperate that she thought she had no other alternative.
I am not a mother, but I am a very proud auntie and I know the value of my nieces and nephews. They are priceless. They are more valuable than anything this earth could provide. I know my brother and sister in law see even more value in them than I do. I know God sees even more value in them than they do.
God sees the same value in my beautiful nieces and handsome nephews that he sees in those two little girls I saw tonight who happen to be the same ages as my nephews.
Shear Love International exists to educate women and show them how valuable they are. And in turn, they will see the value of all the things they create, including their priceless children. We exist for women, their children, and the generations to come.
Join us as we take a stand. We stand for women. We stand for children. We stand for truth. We stand for justice. We stand for freedom.
Join us and stand for freedom at shearloveinternational.org