Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Early Trafficked Victims-Bucharest 1997

by Pam Pyne

     By 1997, I had lived in Romania for four years. Each week I, along with a group of people from the church I attended, took food and clothing to the street where children lived under the manhole covers huddling around the sewer pipes to keep warm.
      This is where I first witnessed the men who showed up and took the children away. These children and youth could be gone for weeks, months, or forever.
     The disturbing sight of children and teens negotiating with men and then disappearing into cars right out in the open etched itself into my memory. Today, I struggle to know exactly what to do with these images.  I witnessed the abduction of some of East Europe's modern day trafficked sex-slaves after communism fell and the borders opened, bringing in pedophiles from all nations and providing a way to take children out of the country. It did no good to protest or to cry out to these men. They were bigger than me and they didn't care what I thought or said or what anyone in our group had to say about their behavior. 
     The police, at the time, were all too happy to have someone take a child from the street. Fewer children living in the street meant fewer problems for police officers to deal with. It also meant fewer kids to round up and put into the basement of the city jail when foreign dignitaries came to town and the mayor instructed police to round up all the street kids and incarcerate them for a few days. 
      The following poem describes what I saw.

Their World

Under manhole covers
Near Bucharest’s train station,
Lie children in holes
Huddled around sewer pipes.

Gray skies, gray skin,
Gray wounds on bare feet.
We enter their hole
Upon invitation—

Their home.
Their world.
Urine puddles
Under the ladder.

My LL Bean
Hiking Boots
Sink in.
I want to take wipes-a-lot

I want to wipe it all down.
In the end,
All I can do is wipe
A wound or two

And apply band-aids.

Children shriek,
Big men ride
small children
I use wipes-a-lot

And apply band-aids

Over and over
 with each band-aid I pray,
"Balm of Gilead,
 cover these wounds
with your healing power."

1 comment:

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