I was rummaging through my notes today, and I found the words of Anne* stuck in the pages of my notebook. When I was visiting My Refuge House, Anne wanted to share with the group what she had learned, and it touched me so much that I asked her if she would write her words down for me. Not surprisingly, when I read them today, they touched me just as deeply.
You see, like most of our girls, Anne came from a very, very poor family. I remember when she first arrived, at the age of 15, having only graduated from 6th grade. We used to ask her about her dreams and plans for her life, and she would give a sarcastic remark to make all her friends laugh. "What do you want to do, Anne?" "Nothing, I don't have any dreams." "Don't you want to study Anne? Don't you want to finish school?" "No way, what would be the point? I'm just going to clean houses for a living anyway."
No one in Anne's family had ever graduated from high school, and her family was putting pressure on her to get a job and help support them. That was how she found herself being tricked by a trafficker to take a "waitressing job" in Manila. Thankfully, the security guards at the pier where she and a dozen of her friends were boarding recognized that the situation looked suspicious and called authorities. They rescued her and her friends before she was ever sold to a pimp!
Anne has always been the strong one among her friends, using laughter to get people to like her, and deflect her true feelings. But after about three months of living at My Refuge House, Anne started to dream for her own life. She began studying in our home school program, and began growing closer to the great staff and caretakers in our home, and slowly but surely, her attitude started to change. And, when I was there a few months ago, she truly showed her transformation by saying these words:
Psalm 23:6 is my favorite verse because it really impacted me when I read it. Before, I had no hope. But when I arrived at My Refuge House, and I asked God to be in my life and now every day he guides me and never leaves me, even when I have a problem. He is always there for me. Every time I cry, I can feel him hug me.
I am so very thankful that I can finish my studies in High School because of the help of My Refuge House. I know now that I can make it with the strength and help of God.
Anne's dream now? She wants to go to college and be a teacher.
*Name changed for the protection of our survivors.