She awakened to the rooster crowing once again. The cold morning air was a bit too much for her today, would her mom every buy blankets? The wet mattress that she shared with her siblings was a little too much today. The cold outside air kept her shivering as she awakened her little sister to get her dried up before mom caught her wet in the bed once again. Why couldn’t her bladder hold out until morning? She lowered a bucket into the large barrel that stood outside her house, she only needed a small amount of water to boil for a bath. She would share a bath with her sister. They would stand together on the small patch of cement out back and pour water all over their naked bodies. Just a little water, there was no soap today. As she raised the bucket into the barrel, it was empty. “Not again”, she thought. Not today, today she was turning 13. Today she wanted a bath. But there was no bath. She crept into the living area of their shack and fished through the piles of dirty laundry. She just had to find something for her younger sister to wear, something that didn’t smell like urine. Then she remembered the small bag of clothes that her little sister received at the Center yesterday. She searched for the bag, hoping that her mom didn’t sell the new clothes for today’s meal. Happily she found the pink dress and panties and carefully changed her little sister’s clothes. Her other 4 siblings were up by now. Everyone searching for something to eat, but there was nothing to be found. Nothing. They didn’t even have any drinking water. Mom was up too. She tried her best to smile as mom gave her a birthday hug and told her that she loved her. She still didn’t understand love, she was hungry. As she walked her siblings to school that morning she was approached by a handsome man in the neighborhood. He had a house not far from hers. She heard that at his house, she could find food, blankets and water. He gave her a birthday hug that made her feel special inside. He asked her out for a date that night. He was 23, she was 13. She went out with him that night. He said that he loved her and she now believed that she knew what love was. She moved out of her house a few weeks later to become his live in girlfriend. Within a few months, she was pregnant. Within the year, he was beating her and bringing other women into the home. She endured, where else would she go? After a few years, he kicked her out, she wasn’t pretty enough for him anymore. She became a prostitute. She sold herself to feed her children. She didn’t know what else to do. She didn’t know where else to go. Her children ended up at the Center, they now have a meal each day and she gets the help that she needs to stay off the street.
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