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  • Writer's pictureKim Westfall, Founder

Maria Goes Home - Trafficking Survivor Story

I want to share a story with you that has made my heart sing. It’s about a survivor who went through a total transformation. Now, she has taken wing! She is a perfect example of what we long to see for each precious survivor.

After years of hard work healing and preparing, “Maria” was about to move into her new place.

She was 34 when we rescued her from Western Europe. She had already been trafficked for 3 years. The devastation of slavery marked her entire body. Her teeth were rotten. She had toothaches all the time. Even the small kindnesses we showed her overwhelmed her -- it had been years since someone treated her like a person.

We whisked her away and cared for her in mind, body, and spirit. She stayed with a Christian family back in her home country. Little by little, she regained her health. Her smile began to brighten. After 2 years, she learned to cook, to sew, to dress hair. Her confidence grew as she experienced loving relationships. When it was time to graduate, she cried leaving the family that had loved and sheltered her.

I spoke with her on the day she graduated. “What is new in your life?” I asked.

Her face began to glow. She was radiant with joy as she burst out, “Everything is new! My past has been washed clean. My present is beautiful.”

Tears filled her eyes as she paused. A huge smile spread on her face. She exploded with joy. “My future is BRIGHT! REALLY BRIGHT! I have freedom! I have skills! I have a new family! My broken life has been restored! My nightmares are gone! I wake up and hear music in my ears! I look at people with confidence. I can do work that I like to do and make my own money! I can dream big and nothing can stop me!”

She breathed hard and paused, drinking in the sweetness of freedom.

“The only things I need are my health and a place where I can help others,” she continued. She was beaming, and determination had crept into her gaze.

With this declaration, we entered her new apartment. It was clean, but very small -- only one room and a little kitchen. As we looked around, we saw only one cup and one plate. No towels. No soap. Nothing she really needed. She wouldn’t get her first paycheck for another week or so.

A family from a local church and I took her shopping. Maria carefully browsed the items and selected only essentials for her new home. She chose a broom, towels, detergent, soap, shampoo, plates and cutlery, two cooking pots. To make sure she went to work looking professional, she found an iron and ironing board as well as a small hair dryer.

As she placed the items around her new home, the entire apartment filled with the warmth of her hope, her determination.

Maria is another butterfly whose wings have healed. Her dreams have been restored and are coming to life before her eyes. She is ready to fly high and explore the destiny God created for her. Our team still keeps in contact with Maria. She is soaring!

I want you to know that you have helped God fulfill his plans for Maria.

Now, we want to see this happen for dozens more survivors. We are in close contact with more than 50 women who are tucked in safe houses across Europe. They escaped in the midst of Covid-19, and now we are preparing to bring them home. Soon after, they will begin to heal body, mind, spirit. Before long, they will be soaring, too.

Your support and encouragement is what makes these butterflies take wing. Join us today in making this vision real for more than 50 survivors.

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