“Asha” couldn’t hold back the tears as she struggled to speak to us. The deep emotions of her heart rose up and smothered her words. Asha cried silently while her friends sat in closer to hug and encourage her. My colleagues and I had gone to Africa to visit the trafficked women we have repatriated and to meet the wonderful organizations that assist them once returned. We were excited to see them again and to hear the reports of how they were doing. The women were not expecting our visit and when Asha saw us, she hugged us excitedly. As we sat and began to listen to the stories, Asha began to cry – a lot. I was not sure if these were tears of joy or if our presence was bringing back the nightmare of her experience in Bangkok.
Finally using her heart language, the words managed to squeeze out between the cries, and one of the staff translated for us. Asha thanked us profusely for helping her to return home when she did. Her mother had terminal cancer and died just two months after she returned. Asha was grateful for the time she had with her mother. When Asha left home the year before, she was in search of a job to fund her mother’s needed medical treatments and her daughter’s education. Instead she was deceived, trafficked, and forced into prostitution. After a year had passed with no end in sight, she had almost given up hope. Asha paused to cry some more and then admitted to us that the night before she met us, she had hidden poison under her pillow and was planning on taking her life. Then she heard that there was a group who could help, and Asha decided to wait and see if it was true.
It was worth the wait. We met Asha and assisted her to escape the horrors of forced prostitution. Asha was very sick when we met her, and medical tests revealed she had cancer as a result of all the violence against her body. We sent her home and connected her to an organization where she was able to get treatments. Asha was not able to save her mother, but she was so grateful that she made it home, was reunited with her daughter, and could be with her mother for two months before she died. Her tears were the overflow of gratitude for this time with her mother.
Asha had almost given up hope when she was still in prostitution on the streets of Bangkok, but because of the generosity and prayers of many around the world, Asha was able to see her mother again. Now Asha is being assisted by a great organization where she has found a new family and has hope for her future.
As Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries this weekend, we at NightLight are so grateful for the generosity that has enabled Asha and many other trafficked women to be reunited with their mothers and to have hope restored of a better future for their children.