As I faced a large group of mothers before me this week who traffic their children, my heart was unexpectedly broken.
Each mother, in the area we are working with in Benin, can barely feed their children and can rarely ever afford to send their children to school. They do not even make the $1 US dollar a day wage.
My task was to tell them to not traffic their children. as this is one of the largest child trafficking area’s in Africa. My team and I were asked by the Judge that incriminates the traffickers, to please get our people into these villages to see what we can do to help these children and parents.
When rescuing the children from the neighboring border of Nigeria, his heartache is having to take the children straight back to the villages where the parents have sold their own children. His heart breaks as to how young these children are. 5 to 10 years old is the average age. Once taken back he know’s the child will once again end up in the trafficking ring. “Please Rebecca, just get some of your team in there to try to help these parents and kids”, pleaded the Judge.
So after much prayer and planning, Orphan Relief and Rescue was able to form a partnership with a group of pastors who have become our anti child trafficking team. We are targeting the three top villages who traffic their children, as advised from the Judge.
We were able to rescue 40 children from becoming another statistic of trafficking this last month, by providing what they needed to get them into school. If the parent can send their child to school they will not traffic them. The parent had to sign a contract with us as well, saying they will never traffic their child out if we help them. This initial cost was only 800 US dollars to do this.
With the women before me I shared about the value of a mother and child relationship. That God has naturally given each woman a mother’s love for her child and we must never break that. We are never to get numb to what God created us to be, which is the nurturers and protectors of our children.
One woman stood up and said, that she has so many children she does not know what to do. Her husband died and he had other wives who have also died and now she has many, many children. The only way to survive is to send the children away. She cannot manage them.
Another woman stood up and said she also has over 10 children herself and is pleading with us on behalf of the younger woman to help them to not have so many children. They do not know how to manage all of what they have. I shared their need to go to a clinic and get what we call family planning, (birth control teaching and training). As well as our team can advise them on how to do this. But as of now, if you have the children in your care already, please do not send them away to work. (They feel they are just sending their child away to work for their own survival, they cannot grasp the concept of what happens once that child is sent away). “There are others ways to make sure your children can be taken care of, I said. We can help advise you with some practical solutions. God has a plan for each child. Every child is unique and special”, I tell them.
I shared in depth of what happens to their child once they are taken. I did not hold anything back. My heart was connecting to each of these women as I looked into their desperate eyes. My thoughts condemned me as to the reality that I personally will never be able to ever fathom the magnitude of what they have to deal with on a daily basis. Their daily decisions are unbelievable. At the same time, God had me there standing on a dirt floor in a building full of desperate mothers. I have learned over the years that these appointments from God are never an accident or fluke. They are God’s plan to show people His heart for them and for their children. So that is what I did. I shared God’s heart and the realities of trafficking.
As I shared what happens when they send their child away, I am not sure that some of them even believed it, or maybe they just did not want to believe it. This is the way things have been done for hundreds of years in these villages. It is how they survive. Yet, I did see others who I knew did get it and their hearts were being softened in ways they had never expected. God was shedding their calloused layers off of their hearts as I spoke. They were hearing about a God who values lives and individuals.
This area is known for being the voodoo capital of the world. Sorcery and witchcraft are intertwined with every area of life here. There are only a handful of people that are Christians in these villages. All you have to do is look at their eyes to see the difference. It is quite a reality check as you can visually see that the eyes are truly the windows to the soul. People who are deep into practicing voodoo have an blank look of darkness in their eyes. Their eyes look glazed over and hollow. Those who are Christians have a brightness to their eyes. They have a completely different look to their eyes. Even the babies of the mothers who are involved in this witchcraft have these same eyes. The picture above is one of these babies with the blank eyes.
So we are not just dealing with poverty, we are also dealing with the evil spirits that keep these family crippled and numb to their God given sense to want to nurture and to protect their own. That is at the core of the bigger problem
People ask me, what is the solution then? My response is, “Jesus”. The almighty powerful God of the Universe who created each of us unique, special and incredibly valuable and has a beautiful plan for our life. When we practice or play with witchcraft, it will destroy us. Everything we touch will be cursed. We see huge visuals of that in the villages. It leads to death in every area of our life. It numbs and deadens our natural God given intuitions, such as loving and nurturing our children.
Education and practical hands on training and teaching, micro enterprising and other practical things have to be intertwined with the spiritual teachings as well, or they will still be crippled.
The answer all goes together. The core is Christ, and the peripheral is practical application and education. This all has to come about through relationship.
Always showing love and value to every man, woman and child who comes into our path, as we represent Christ wherever we walk. We are to never cease to pray for eyes to be open and clear so that people can be set free for their children and families sake to break the cycle of this awful
practice of bondage and trafficking.