Amy and Mary* – The heart of a rescue
Many trafficking stories start with betrayal by the closest and dearest. This story is no different. The first time I met the little girls was in the police station in Pattaya. The policeman opened the door and I saw two little girls crying curled up on the office chairs. They were 5 and 7 years old and their faces were filled with fear and pain.
The children were trafficked from Cambodia to Thailand and trained to steal from foreigners and beg on the streets of Thailand so the parents could buy alcohol and drugs. The younger 5 year old girl was purposefully deformed as a baby. Her mom tied her hands and feet up, cut off some of her fingers and tried to cut off the circulation of one of her legs.The mom was hoping that she would bring more money as a deformed baby through begging.
Amy and Mary lived in a small room where they slept on the floor and were beaten every day. Their older brother also managed to kidnap a 10 year old Thai boy and forced him to work and make money for the mom and dad. When the police found them, the parents went straight to jail and the older brother ran away.
We picked up the little girls, gave them a temporary shelter and organized their documents. The journey of trafficked children into safety is often long and filled with many obstacles. The current system in place in Thailand to protect the children is not fully equipped to deal with the medical and psychological problems the children face.
After their rescue and legal documents preparation, the journey home started by traveling in a van for 5 hours to reach the Thailand/Cambodian border. The girls were very excited about the journey, as we had prepared a bag of toys, clothes and color books for them. Every time we left the vehicle for a short stop at a gas station, the girls left the vehicle clutching their bag and carried it with them, even when going to the bathroom! All their precious little possessions fit into one little bag, and they held it very close to their bodies.
Often, similar cases are treated very differently – the children are put into trucks and dropped off at the border without any adult protection or care facility to go into. Then traffickers find them and send them right back into exploitation. Also, many children do not get to a long-term safe home because of the lack of funding.
Before we handed over the girls to the social worker in Cambodia, we sat down and talked to them about their next few days in Cambodia. It was a very emotional goodbye and it was hard to leave the girls crying, but we knew they were in good hands, on their way into a long-term placement.
The journey for trafficked victims is never easy but seeing the girls go from sleeping on a dirt floor and beaten every day, to having a home and attending school for the first time makes it so worth it! They will recapture their childhood and we pray that the scars left from their trafficked experience will supernaturally heal.
*Not their real names.