Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Lesson From Trafficked Victims

Ingredients For A Happy New Year
 by Iana Matei with Pam Pyne

              I say it all the time, "I wish you a happy New Year."  But what exactly does that mean? The girls from the shelter and I made some discoveries during this Christmas season that stand a good chance to move us forward into more happiness in the coming year.
            As Christmas approached, the mood in the shelter turned from one of relative calm to bickering and backbiting.  It went something like this:
            “It’s not my turn to clean the bathroom and I don’t want to.” 
            “Iana, she keeps borrowing my clothes…”
            “You have all these rules for us because you don’t want us to have any fun…”
            “At least when we were with the pimps we got to drink beer and wine and go to the clubs…”
            “She keeps putting my things somewhere and I can’t find them…”
            They went on and on throughout the afternoon. Their voices rose and the complaining and fighting intensified.
            Finally, I’d had all I could take. “STOP IT!” My voice rose above the others. “Just because you’ve been hurt, doesn’t make you the center of the universe.”  I lowered my voice slightly. “Come here, I want to show you something.”
            I brought an envelope out of my pocket.
            “What is she doing? Why is she showing us her mail? Like we care?”
            I opened it and pulled out a picture of several attractive girls surrounding a large bin of clothing. Each girl held up an item and smiled at the camera. Their eyes shined, as if they were happy.
            “Who are they?” Andrea asked.
            “They’re girls from the US.”
            “So, what do they have to do with us, why are you showing us that picture?”
            “I’m showing you their picture because they collected a lot of stylish clothing that they’re sending to all of you.”
            “Do they know us?”
            “No, they don’t know you.”
            “Then why did they do it?”
            “They did it because they heard about you and they wanted to share.”
            “Why would they want to share with us if they don’t even know us?”
            “The way you’ve been acting, I have no idea.” I turned and left them with the social workers for the rest of the day.
            When I arrived the next morning, the house was clean and the girls were sorting through some clothes that had come for them some time back but were put away because they were too big. One girl brought boxes from the closet under the staircase another sorted out the nicest items, yet another girl ironed and a couple of girls neatly folded and placed the clothing into bundles according to size.
            I shook my head. “What are you doing?”
            “We’ve called the home where the elder people stay. We’re going there tomorrow to take these clothes. The lady on the phone sounded happy that we’re coming.”
            I walked toward the back of the house past the living room and on into the kitchen. “What are you baking and where did you get the flour?” I asked the girls as they placed dough onto the baking sheets. I knew we were nearly out when I had left the day before.
            “We used our cigarette money. We’re baking sweets and taking them to the orphanage.”
            I nearly choked. “What happened to you?”
“We saw the pictures of the American girls and said, ‘If those girls who don't know us and live so far away can do something nice for us, then surely, we can do something for the people we live around.  Once we started, it became fun.” Alina smiled up at me and winked. “After all, we’re not the center of the universe, you know.”
As she turned her back to me and placed more dough on the baking sheet, I recognized this moment as one that offered us secure passage into a Happy New Year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Root Cause Of Child Vulnerability To Human Trafficking (continued)

by Iana Matei with Pam Pyne

(continued from December 6, 2010)

The root cause of children being lured by human traffickers isn’t poverty. It’s dysfunctional families living in the midst of poverty.  Iana Matei

When slave traders, transported 18 year old Sylvia, a virgin, from Romania to Italy with the intension of selling her into prostitution, the role her family played in her heroic escape illustrates this point.

Review from last week:  Sylvia’s widowed mother can’t afford to send her brilliant daughter on to higher education. An elderly woman from the small Romanian village where she and her seven children live offers to send Sylvia out to Italy where her own son and daughter have opened a restaurant. The woman assures Sylvia’s mother that in two years, Sylvia will make enough money to come back and attend one of Romania’s best schools.  When Sylvia arrives in Italy, she is made to share a room with the son. After dodging his advances all night, the next morning, she discovers there is no restaurant and the daughter of the elderly woman exposes the real motivation for bringing Sylvia to Italy.

      “Before you can start making money for yourself, you’ll need to pay us back for your trip out of Romania. You didn’t think that came for free did you?  There are several men around here who will enjoy a girl like you enough to pay well.  You’ll need to pay us back first, then after that, you can keep the money for yourself.”
      Sylvia considered running from the house at night while the brother and sister slept. Where could she go? She didn’t speak Italian and the traffickers had taken her documents.  She’d need to play things smart. She began flirting with the son.
      “Can I rub your shoulders tonight? I can’t have sex with you yet because I’m in the middle of my period.  But in a few days, it’ll be OK. I’d rather my first time be with you, someone I know.”
      That night, when the son had fallen asleep, Sylvia took his cell phone from the nightstand and went into the bathroom. Quickly, she dialed her mother’s number in Romania. Her mother’s sleepy voice answered.
    Sylvia whispered into the phone,  “Momma, I’m in trouble. I’m not going to work in the restaurant like they said. They want me to have sex with strangers and give them the money afterwards.”
       Her mother sucked in her breath. “Are you OK? Have they hurt you? Do you know the name of the street the house is on? I’ll call the police here and see if they can call the police in Italy and get you out of there. Don’t panic. Act like you’re cooperating and I’ll try to find a way to help you. Remember, we love you here, no matter what happens to you there.”
      The next morning, Sylvia pretended to go along with the plan.
      “Could you give me a complete list of expenses that I have to pay back? I want to get to work on this as soon as possible so I can pay it off and start to earn money for myself. I saw so many nice things in the shop windows as we came through town.”
      “What is the address here? I need to know how to pronounce the name of the street in case I get lost. I want to practice saying it.”
      She walked around the house all day rolling the double r’s off her tongue.
       That night she said to the son casually, “Only another couple of days and we can be together, then after that, I can start working. I think I’ll do well with this. I’ll have you paid off in no time and then I’ll explore Italy. I’ll know the language by then and I might even make a few friends.”
      When the son fell asleep, Sylvia took his cell phone off the nightstand and snuck into the bathroom with it again. This time she dialed the same number for emergency that she would have dialed in Romania. “Dear God, please let it be the same number here!”
       Sylvia let out a sigh of relief when the woman on the other end of the line said something rushed in Italian. Since the Romanian and Italian languages are similar, Sylvia and the operator had an opaque understanding of one another. Sylvia gave the woman the address where she was staying.
    “Problema, Problema!” Sylvia kept repeating.
      The woman understood enough to know that Sylvia needed help and she alerted the police. They arrived within 20 minutes and knocked on the door.
The daughter opened the door and stared at the police defiantly, her lips pursed tight and her eyes narrowed
“Why have you woke my household at this hour? What is this all about? You’ll wake the entire neighborhood if you’re not careful.”
       “What are you doing? Stop that!” she shouted as the police slapped handcuffs on her wrists and tossed her onto the corner armchair.
      “Stay there while we fetch your brother.” The daughter glanced at the door, hoping to make a run for it, but one look at the big burley policeman blocking the doorway convinced her to keep her seat.
      The other two police officers brushed past Sylvia and ran down the hall into the bedroom. One of the officers caught the brother’s foot as he attempted to climb out the window and dragged him back inside.
      “You’re under arrest for human trafficking and forced prostitution.” They cuffed the young man as he shouted, “This is all about discrimination, isn’t it? This is because we’re from Romania, isn’t it?  
      Sylvia watched as the officers stuffed both the brother and the sister into a patrol car. As the car lurched forward, Sylvia caught the eye of the sister and barely resisted the urge to stick out her tongue.

      Today, the elderly woman,  son and the daughter are all in jail awaiting trial. Sylvia has agreed to testify against them.
Iana’s shelter is covering Sylvia’s educational expenses making it possible for Sylvia to finish her education.
     While cleaver thinking aided Sylvia in her escape from her captors, her mother’s assurance that she wouldn’t be blamed or shunned for what happened to her motivated her efforts to escape.
      As parents, weather we are married, single, divorced, widowed, rich, poor or middle-class, the most effective protection against human trafficking we can offer a child stems from an atmosphere of love and stability in the home.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Taking the time to be thankful..... By: Joy Morris

I look around me and see family and friends and I see all the beautiful blessings that God has given me yet I hear others complaining about life and what they don’t have and how bad their life is. I ask myself….why is that? Why can’t we be happy with what God has given us? We waste so much time complaining and griping about what we want and don’t have and yet we lose sight of all that’s important.

So many families this year have lost a loved one. They will be spending Christmas alone. So many parents have lost a child. They don’t know where to turn or how their life will continue on. This could be our lives. We could have lost something so precious and dear to us. We could be homeless and without food in our stomachs. We could be six feet under the ground.

I’m not saying that what goes on in your life isn't as important as the people who have lost something, but I am saying that even if you’ve been through hard times and even if your still going through hard times, God has given you the willpower and the strength to continue on. We can still fight for what we want in life and still be happy and content. You may have had someone take something away from you that was so precious or you may be in a situation you need out of but the way to make your life better is not to complain or “wish” that things were better….it’s to take action and use the strength that God gave you to push forward and to create the life that brings Joy and happiness to you and everyone that surrounds you.

If you're in a situation that you need out of….take the steps to make that happen. If your gut is telling you that you don’t need to be in the situation you are in then you need to listen to it. Each and every one of us have problems and issues that we want to go away but if you do not take the time to really work hard and make it all disappear you will always be in the rut you're in now and you’ll do nothing more then complain like everyone else in the world. I want you to be the person who makes a difference in this world. Even if you feel you're only one person and you can’t make that difference you need to think again. Each voice can create a world of change if you just speak up and work hard to make that change happen.

If you take nothing else from what I’m saying tonight then take this….don’t stay in the life that leads to misery and self destruction. Stand up and fight for what is right and make your voice be heard. All it takes is one voice to make that positive difference in every person’s life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Message To Victims

by Joy Morris

     There are so many times when things don’t go the way we planned for them to go. We feel as though it’s time to give up or to just give in. The sad thing is I believe our government sometimes behaves this way.
     When it comes to human trafficking, the pedophiles are doing wrong. A trafficker robs a girl of her innocence and vulnerability then he looks back over his shoulder to see if anyone notices.  The numbers of children trafficked into the Untied States from other parts of the world indicate that we’re not noticing enough. Are we giving in or giving up?
     In looking on the statistics for this site, I noticed that we have a lot of foreign readership from places like The Ukraine, Russia and Viet Nam. The thought crossed my mind, could some of these readers be trafficked victims?

Message To Victims

     Have you ever felt like just giving up because you have been the victim?  I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to give up OR give in. I believe that even after you’ve been through the worst nightmare of your life you can still pick up the pieces and turn your life around.
     You see everything that you do in your life from this point forward is a choice. You have a choice to wake up, a choice to put your clothes on, a choice to eat something and even a choice to keep going. These people who try to take your dignity from you want you to just ball up and wither away. So if you choose to do this then you have let them win. You remain a victim because you choose to. You don’t have to be placed in that category. YOU ARE A REAL HUMAN BEING. Someone with feelings, a family, and even a heart.
     Don’t give them what they want!! Make the choice to pick the pieces up and put them all back together. It’s going to take time. You will have to do this piece by piece by piece. But, you can eventually complete the puzzle.
    Then you’ll be a testament to other girls and other victims. You’ll have a story with the potential to save other girl’s lives. If you go out and make other girls aware of the dangers and the schemes these pedophiles pull then you’ve turned your title around from victim to victorious. You have not only possibly saved another girl’s life, but you’ve taught them that amidst despair comes triumph. So if you have been one of these girls, take some time to sit back and to decide how YOU will be the turning point in this “giving up and giving in” society. World change starts with us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Root Cause Of Child Vulnerability To Human Traffickers

by Iana Matei with Pam Pyne

         The root cause of children being lured by human traffickers isn’t poverty. It’s dysfunctional families living in the midst of poverty.  Iana Matei

       When slave traders, transported 18 year old Sylvia from Romania to Italy with the intension of selling her into prostitution, the role her family played in her heroic escape illustrates my point,

     Sylvia had lived her entire life in a small Romanian village with her widowed mother and six siblings.  While Sylvia’s mother struggled to provide materially for her children, she provided ample lessons in love, self-respect and respect for others. 
     It distressed Sylvia’s mother when Sylvia wasn’t able to go on to higher education.  Sylvia received excellent grades and her mother felt she could go far with further training. But Sylvia’s mother had no money.
     An older woman from the village approached Sylvia's mother.
     “I noticed Sylvia isn’t in school. Why not?”
     “There's no money to send her.”
     “I may have a solution for you. “
     The older woman leaned in and smiled.  “ You know my son and my daughter moved to Italy a couple of years ago. They come back often to visit. You’ve seen them around. My daughter married and opened a restaurant that caters to Romanians traveling into Italy. She needs a girl who speaks Romanian to wait the tables. Sylvia could do that job.”
     Sylvia’s mother had noticed the son and the daughter coming and going around the village. Judging from the car they drove, their restaurant must be quite successful. The woman’s living conditions had also improved. Her house was painted, her fence was fixed and she wore a new coat.
     “They’ll be here next week. Sylvia could ride back to Italy with them and stay with my daughter and her family. She could work in the restaurant and send money home. After two years, she would have enough to come back to Romania and go to school.”
     Sylvia’s mother trusted what this woman said. She had known the woman her entire life and she’d watched her children as they grew up.
     The following week, Sylvia left with the daughter and the son and headed for Italy. When they got there, the daughter showed Sylvia to her room. The son was already there and the room held only one bed.
     “I don’t want to sleep with him. I’m a virgin and I want to stay that way.”
     “It’s the only bed here. Take it or leave it.”
     Sylvia dodged the young man’s advances all night. The next morning Sylvia received a call from the young man’s mother back in Romania.
     “You traveled all the way to Italy with my son and now you won’t have sex with him? You selfish girl. He’ll explode! Have sex with my son and get on with it.”
     That afternoon, the daughter and the son revealed their plans for Sylvia. She would sexually satisfy several men each day and give them the money she earned to pay for her trip to Italy.

(Continued next week)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Upcoming Anti-Trafficking Documentary
This site describes the upcoming documentary featuring Iana Matei and other abolitionists. It also provides a wealth of information and links.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Joy Morris: Her Special Interest in Anti-Trafficking

by Joy Morris

Hello Everyone,

I’m Joy Morris and I’ll be communicating with you through the blog each week. I hope what I have to share will encourage you to involve yourself in the fight against human trafficking.

To tell you a little about myself….I grew up in the South. I came from a family of four girls (I know my poor dad, lol) As I grew up I got married and tried to have children, but my pregnancies produced only miscarriages. I went so far as to do In Vitro Fertilization. After another miscarriage I decided it was time to adopt. I adopted my daughter from the Ukraine and she has been the light of my life from the time her tiny fingers curled around mine. Today, as a teen, her not so tiny fingers don't aways curl around mine. They don't need to. We're permanently linked in the bonds of mother and daughter with all the challenges and joys those bonds entail.

So how does all of this tie into the human trafficking issue? This is how. If my daughter wouldn’t have been adopted, she could very well have been a part of a vicious cycle of trafficking and forced prostitution. Girls from the orphanages in the Ukraine are turned out onto the streets at 13 to 16 years of age with minimal education. These girls, without family ties, are extremely vulnerable to human traffickers. My daughter’s destiny could have led her down that road.  Instead, my inability to have a child brought us together.

While not being able to physically mother a child brought me emotional pain, it’s because of this pain that my daughter now grows up in a loving home, provided with opportunities for education and tools to aid her in securing a future.

Human trafficking hits home with me. I want girls to see that they can make a better life for themselves--that they have a lot of people standing behind them to assist them as they move forward to succeed in life. 

This week, take a moment and contemplate: What needs do you have in your life? Is there any way that your needs could be instrumental in providing hope for victims of human trafficking? What contacts have you made because of your needs? Could your needs aid you in any way in communicating the anti-trafficking message to others?

We'd love to hear back from you after you have thought about these questions. Especially if they lead you into new ways of communicating the anti-trafficking message, or to take action steps to help at-risk girls.

Have a wonderful week!
Joy's website:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Read Tomorrow's Post by Joy Morris

Tomorrow contributing blogger, Joy Morris, will be posting to this site.  Learn how after spending many years in the entertainment industry, as a model, actress, and TV Host, Joy became an anti-trafficking advocate. Joy will share her unique motivation that led to her outcry to "Free The Slaves!"  Don't miss Joy's inspiring story.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Pray For Those Enslaved In Forced Labor And Forced Prostitution

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. As you give thanks, please pray for the release of children and young adults who are forced daily into acts against their will.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creative Process Promotes Hope For Trafficked Victim

"In the beginning God created..." Genesis 1:1

Somehow, it doesn't surprise me that a first sign of becoming healthy and whole again for a trafficked victim would come within the creative process. This is exactly what happened for Monica. The following poem conveys her courageous struggle as she makes a new beginning following her escape from human traffickers.  While the poem is not a direct translation, it  expresses her perceptions and sensations as she moves beyond the cycle of modern-day slavery and sexual abuse.

Forgiven Wind

I stand,
braced against forgiven wind,

 Layers of dirt
Slapped on me,

 by multitudes of unclean hands,
provide defense

against the Titanic Rain
beating on my path.

  Filth slides away
with my skin and

  I stand bloodied, exposed,
 braced against
forgiven wind.

 Icy hands I don’t feel
swipe at tears 
that aren’t there.

My Closed eyelids
hide darkness.


Hope flies in on forgiven wind.
She swoops down
  landing beside me,

She strokes
my breast.

I shove her away.
She reaches out again.

I seize her by the neck, 
 and slam her
to the ground.

She escapes,
grabs me around my chest
and slams me

 into ice packed earth. 
She straddles my broken body 

Tears escape my eyes.
Her breath penetrates my flesh,

It slows my heart...
I lay motionless 

 Sleep overtakes me.  
Night slips into morning,

Clouded by my future 
my past.

Yet I wakeI rise…

 I stand,
 braced against forgiven wind,

a frozen body
 sheltering Hope’s song.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God's Little Girls (continued)

Dread rose like lava I needed to outrun. It swallowed my joy.  
I studied every form of “spiritual warfare” imaginable. I rebuked this and I bound that. I claimed Mariana back from the enemy.  I blamed and I exclaimed, “What happened? Why isn’t any of this working? Why aren’t you doing something, God?”
I go around and snatch these girls from evil. It’s your job to keep them safe.  My heart is broken. I can’t take it.” I turned to the wall and I cried until I had no more tears.
         When I finally raised my head, a card pasted on a mirror caught my eye.
         “A broken…heart I will not ignore.”
         Before, this page had served as a reminder of something the girls needed to recover from the awful things the traffickers had done to them. Now, I needed this message as much as the girls.  I’d seen so much pain and so many poor choices in the past years. They’d slit at my soul until their memories seeped from a dark space inside. “God, my heart! It’s broken! I can’t take it anymore.”
          The phone rang. I looked at the clock. It was 1: A.M.
 Twelve years ago, I had picked up the phone about this time of night and it was the police asking me to come bring clothes to the hospital for three prostitutes who had Syphilis. The prostitutes turned out to be young girls. That was the call that led to my opening the safe house. Now I couldn’t stop crying.  Should I even pick up the phone? What bad news might be at the other end of the line?  It might be a request to pick up another girl. I just can’t right now.
          I finally answered the phone.  At first, no one said anything. Then a sob came through the line. “Iana, it’s me, Mariana. Will you come and pick me up? ”
         “Where are you? What happened?”
         The answers didn’t matter near as much as the fact that she was OK. She wasn’t dead and the traffickers hadn’t taken her.
         This experience taught me a bit about prayer.  While my voice is important and I use it to fight against injustice, when it comes to matters of the heart and spirit, my voice doesn’t have the power to change much. I can claim, I can bind, and I can command.  I can do 12 steps of prayer or 7 steps of prayer, but none of this is what moves the heart of God. He shows compassion to me when my heart is broke by the things that break his heart. My father in heaven cares when I hurt. 
No matter what noise I make to fight human trafficking I’m really just a little girl with a broken heart. But, if I’m still and I’m quiet long enough, like Mariana, I find myself tingling with anticipation of what can be. In this way, I move forward to fight the good fight…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God's Little Girls

            The phone rang.  It was the night shift social worker from the safe house.
“Iana, it’s Gabriella—Mariana---again.” Between her clipped words and my interrupted sleep, that’s all I made out.
““Slow down. I can’t understand you.” 
“Mariana…threatening Susana… with a knife.”
I called security and rushed to the shelter.  We managed to talk Mariana into giving us the knife about the same time security arrived. 
I shook my head. “I can’t allow you to disrupt the healing process of the other girls with your threats”
            Mariana stared back at me and her chin tilted up. Her mouth dragged at the corners and her eyes squinted. Being repeatedly raped in adolescent years doesn’t do a lot to develop a pleasant personality, but Mariana went beyond unpleasant. She was dangerous.
I made up my mind. For the rest of the girls to feel safe, Mariana had to go.  I filed paperwork to move her to Gaesti, a juvenile delinquent institution.
In other countries, time spent in juvenile detention might not be such a big deal. In Romania, its stigma could be as bad as that of having been a teen-aged prostitute.
            The juvenile institutions here imprison youth without dealing with their mental or emotional issues. When they reenter society, they end up back in prison or they do something careless and wind up maimed or dead. No one wants to train them for a vocation. They’re considered a waste.
            I filed papers for Mariana to go to Gaisti, but found she would have to continue at the shelter until the court processed her file.  In the meantime, we dealt with her outbursts and lived in uneasy watchfulness.
Then one day she came downstairs fully dressed and headed for the door.
“I’m going to school.”
“What did you say?”
She looked like any other schoolgirl. Her shirt didn’t expose the tops of her breasts as it usually did and her pants offered breathing room. 
I tried to act nonchalant. “OK, so don’t forget your coat.”
            She nodded, took her coat and went for the door. Her friends wouldn’t be up at this hour. The clubs wouldn’t be open.  She might really be going to school.
            Each day after that she attended school. She didn’t threaten the other girls and she did her chores. The change was so dramatic it was as if someone else had taken over her body.
            “What happened to you Mariana? What made you start going to school and being nice to the other girls? Why did you stop threatening the social workers and start asking how you could help around here?”  She smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
My eyes held her gaze. “I worked with you and I worked with you. I applied every psychological method I knew in an effort to get you to a place where you could live with others and work toward a future. But you weren’t like the other girls. You refused to cooperate. Were you frightened because you were being sent to Gaesti? Is that why you changed?
            She shook her head. “If you remember I got worse for a while. Nothing mattered. I knew things would always be the same. No one would ever accept me or love me.  I didn’t care if I lived or died.  What difference would it make if I went to Gaesti?
            “What then? What motivated you?”
“Even though I acted so awful, one day I decided to pray.  I prayed because I didn’t want to hurt. As I lay there, prickling, like pins and needles penetrated my skin. It tingled up and down my spine.  My stomach that rumbled all the time quieted. The heaviness in my chest loosened.  Like a block, it rose and dissolved.”
“Warmth spread from my chest up into my head and down to the tips of my toes.  I tingled. A stream of light shined through an open window. For the first time since I had met the trafficker I fell completely to sleep and slept until morning.
“When I woke, I no longer resented the furniture claiming it came from rich people with too much money who didn’t know what else to do with it.  I viewed the room as a space provided for me.
“The walls that had made the room feel like a prison now looked like a private place where I could connect with the light. I wanted to stay in the room. Yet, I wanted to make a future. The first step would be school… I had to finish school.
            “I dressed and went downstairs. It was good you didn’t ask too many questions. I wouldn’t have known how to explain what had happened to me.  When I came home that night and laid back in bed, the needles pricked and tingled again.  This happened night after night.
“My skin tingled when I thought of what could happen for me.  I saw how Louisa got a job. She goes to school and she has friends.  She seems normal now. I heard of Christina who went through training, got a job, met a man and later married. I remembered how she stopped by the shelter and showed us her two daughters.
Mariana smiled. “One day, I’ll have a job. Someday, I might even meet a man who will fall in love with me.
            “I was so mad about you no club dancing and no alcohol rule but now I get it. You were trying to protect me.
“When I go to my room at night, I wait for the tingling, that presence. It helps me know that I’m much more than a doomed girl. I had some horrible days, but I won’t have a horrible life.”
             Months went by and Mariana grew more self-assured.
 Then, one day she didn’t return from school. Or the day after that. Did her trafficker find her? Did he kill her? Did something happen to cause her distress? Did she run away?
            Dread rose like lava I needed to outrun.  (continued next week)