Hope Renewed-Stories from Myanmar
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” …Romans 12:21
This trip has most definitely had it’s heartbreaking moments, but today I want to share with you some of the hope I have for real change in Myanmar.
I went to visit the human trafficking restoration center. A group of us loaded into the back of a covered pickup truck and headed off. It was a long ride down very dusty, bumpy dirt roads. It hasn’t rained here for several days, and it’s viciously hot, so the dust was awful. I finally had to hold my shirt over my mouth so I could filter the air and breathe. By the time we arrive, I looked like I had a spray tan gone wrong. I was covered with layers of sweat and dirt, and between my bottom bouncing on the not-so-comfy truck bench and the couple of times my head hit the top, I felt a little battered and bruised.
We toured the center and were educated on the work they are doing there. It’s incredible. They have worked with several international organizations to create a program to develop and restore the girls in several different areas: spiritual, physical, emotional, educational, and vocational. They have Bible study and two times of worship per day that the girls are free to participate in, and all do. And in addition to restoring these girls, another of their objectives is to be cultural instruments of social change in the community to bring an end to human trafficking.
Then we met the survivors. They were shy, beautiful young ladies. Some looked barely old enough to be in middle school. And I noticed several scars on one of the girls, which I can only guess came from her time in slavery. The girls are learning life skills, which includes beautician skills and they wanted to practice on us. One of them gave me a manicure—which was a little embarrassing since everything on me, including my nails, was caked with filth. It was such a humbling experience. They are also learning to sew, and are making some beautiful purses, wallets, and also necklaces and bracelets. It was awesome to see these girls, once hopeless and broken, smile and laugh and have hope in their eyes. And I could see their pride as they showed us the items they were making.
I finally got back to the hotel and hit the shower. As I was scrubbing off the layers of grime, I was overwhelmed with emotion. How I wish it were so easy for those girls! I arrived at the center today probably much like they did, battered, bruised and covered with the filth gathered on my journey there. But, unlike them, all it took for me was some hot water and soap and I could wash it all away. I don’t think it will be so easy for them. But after seeing the program they are building there, I have hope that one day their lives will be washed clean of the horrors they endured, and they will be restored. And I also have hope for Myanmar, that through things like the work at the restoration center, we can see human trafficking come to an end in this country.
–Natalie Jaranowski, Executive Director, One Life Church