People often ask me, “How do those kids get trafficked anyway?” and I typically say something cryptic like “Well, there are various common scenarios.” Unfortunately, that answer does little to explain the realities of how trafficking happens. But I find often find myself resistant to creating stereotypes by explaining a common path, so I give a couple of fairly generic and common scenarios and leave it at that.
However, I can tell you this: Of the girls who have lived at My Refuge House, a full 95% were trafficked by someone they knew: a neighbor, a cousin, a classmate. I can also tell you that of the girls who have lived at My Refuge House, 100% of them were behind in their education and the majority of them were trying to find income to help supplement their family’s daily needs.
Brave, Sweet Jacky* stood up at our house blessing and told her story last month. With a quivering chin, she read through the entire speech she had prepared, and all the partners and supporters left with an understanding of one of the more common paths that girls who are trafficking in the Philippines sometimes follow. It involved dropping out of school because of poverty, trying to find work to help support 5 younger siblings, false representation about a job opportunity and isolation from anyone who could protect her. But… I’m going to let her tell it.
Here is Jacky’s story:
Good afternoon to all of you.
Thank you so much for coming here and for witnessing the blessing of our new house. I am here in front of you to share a little bit about my life and I hope you will find meaning from my story.
When I was a child, I’ve been through a lot of challenges and problems. I have so many siblings who never had the chance to go to school or finish our studies. I came from a very poor family and my parents didn’t have enough money to send us all to school. I stopped my studies when I was in grade 3 and my parents didn’t search for a way to re-enroll me, so I never went back. I was sad, very sad of the thought that I could no longer continue my studies. Over the years, I witnessed poverty in our very own home and so I decided to find a job myself.
One day, a woman came to our place and offered me a job to work in Manila as an internet café attendant. We were promised it was a good job in Manila and they left money for my parents which also motivated me to work and take advantage of the job opportunity. All I was thinking about at that time was that I will be helping my parents and somehow, someway, will save my family from poverty. I told my parents to use that initial payment that they gave us for my sibling’s schooling and they agreed– as long as my siblings had the opportunity to study, I was happy.
We stopped first in Cebu and we were about to leave for Manila, but I was very shocked because there were policemen all over the place asking us about our trip and our purpose of going to Manila. I just told them, “I will work in an internet café there”. All of a sudden, they escorted us, gave us food and brought us to Social Services. I was really afraid and scared that time that I might not be able to see my family again. Then I learned it was a rescue conducted by International Justice Mission (IJM).
After we stayed at Social Services for few weeks, our Social Workers brought us here at My Refuge House. This is where I experienced studying again after a very long time of being out-of-school. I am very happy because after 2 years of staying here, I am able to finish my elementary through the Angelicum Home School. Now, I’m in my 1st year in High School and I am hoping to finish my studies here.
I really enjoy staying here but there are still ups and downs in my 2 years of stay at this place. November of 2012, I received a very shocking bad news. My mother died because of pregnancy complications. She died without me by her side. I was confused what to do that time. We went to the public hospital and I saw my mother’s dead body lying on a bed. I didn’t know what to do when I saw the nurse covering my mother’s body with a white cloth. I was crying all the time with my father. I really felt that God wasn’t there or if He was, he wasn’t that close to me. I questioned Him why of all people He gave that challenge to me. This situation was very sad for me and for my family but it didn’t give me the reason not to know Him better. After a while I realized that God won’t give me problems I cannot solve or carry. I learned not to give up. I went back to My Refuge House and continued my studies.
I’ve been staying here for 2 years and 4 months and I learned to know more about God. I am very grateful because through our spiritual activities I have deepened my relationship and faith in God. I realized that the job I was hoping to have in Manila wasn’t right. I used to regret being trafficked and rescued but now I realized that because of that event, I was brought here to My Refuge House. That event made me the person I am right now. I was given the kind of love, care and provision that I haven’t experienced before. I am very thankful for all the changes and successes this place has helped me achieve in my life. My life has been changed and I will always be thankful for that. Thank you also for all your support and prayers. We will always be grateful!
God bless you all!