I saw her tears. I heard her cries. She clutched the stuffed animal to her chest as I lightly tapped the door and peeked into her room. “Mari,” I whispered, “Are you okay?” No response. Just the whimpering sounds of a torn heart.
I moved closer, “Please come to breakfast.” She was usually the first at the table, it was strange to sit at the breakfast table without her that morning. “Would you like to call your mom?” She nodded a yes as the whimpering sounds quickly transformed into sobs.
I grabbed my phone and began to dial as I held back my tears. I knew this phone call would be the beginning of the end of Mari’s time with us. I had a signed consent from her mom where I promised to send her home as soon as she wanted to leave.
I dreaded making the call, but I had made a promise and had to come through.
“Hello Pastor Vicki. Is Mari okay?” Our telephone calls were always about her daughter.
Those welled up tears began to fall, “No.” Sob, sob, sob, “she won’t eat or get out of bed. She wants you.”
“I don’t think that she should come back home yet. I’m not ready.”
The psychologist in charge of this case told me that she would be better off at home once her abuser was arrested. He would be in jail soon, I needed to let her go.
“I don’t want her to leave, but you are her mother. No one could ever take your place. She wants you.”
Her mom began to break down, “I miss her so much. I want her home. I’m just afraid that this is all my fault. I’m such a terrible mother.”
She belted out a cry from deep within. I could hear the regret of the choices she made. The sound of unfulfilled dreams, generations of abuse that reached down to her baby girl filled the phone’s receiver.
“It’s not your fault,” I could barely get the words out. “You have always done the best you knew to do. Now we will teach you how to move forward. You have to take her back. Allow her to see you fight for her. She needs to know that you will always have her back.”
“Okay. Put her on the phone.”
I stepped back into the room with Mari and placed the phone by her ear, “It’s your mom honey.”
She tried to talk, but the words wouldn’t come out. All she could do was bawl.
I told her mom that we’d call back later and I spent the rest of the morning holding Mari in my arms as she cried.
“It’s okay sweetie, cry. Let it all out.” She had been with us for two weeks and had not cried. She tried so hard to be strong. She spent her days playing in the pool, on the trampoline and watching movies with my girls. I kept waiting for the tears to flow, but she refused.
Today was her day. “He hurt me. So did the others. When my friends found out, they said that I liked it.” The sobs were consistent, “I never liked it.”
“I know honey.”
“I miss my mom. I want to go home.”
“You will soon. We want to make sure that home will be safe for you.”
She began to cry more at this point. My heart had taken enough and needed a break so I asked Selina to take over. She held her in her arms until Paola, our future Safe House Mother, took over.
Paola is a Godsend for sure! She cared for Mari as is she were her own child. Mari’s problem with Encopresis didn’t stop her. She treated her as if she were her own. We all did.
But today was the beginning of our end with her.
She is back home now. Her trafficker will be sentenced soon. Today a mother and a child have been reunited and one more child trafficker has been halted.
There is so much more to say. So much more to do. So many more girls out there. So little time to save them. *Every two minutes a child is being prepared for trafficking. The tears burning my eyes won’t let me write any more. Stay posted. Let’s stop their cries. We can do this.