So this morning, despite a variety of things on my to do list, I chose to just stay home and relax. Its nice to not have any agenda and just chill. Those in the member care world would call this 'caring for our souls' as we seek to rest and recalibrate after a hectic time.
This afternoon I went over to Newsong to meet up with Don Brewster, one of our Ratanak partners who oversees the Newsong Centre, a long term rehabilitaiton centre for girls rescued from sex trafficking. As I stepped into the compound there was a team from the U.S playing volleyball with some of the girls. It was great to see so many familiar faces especially some of the teachers who I have had the privilege of talking with over skype during this past year and the young ones who were scattered all over the place looking on at the volleyball game. I scanned the perimeter of the volleyball court looking for a little friend by the name of Sparky but she was so shy that she got all nervous and would not come over to where I was. Some of you may remember Spark's story. She is now 9 years old but two years ago she lived in Svay Pak and unfortunately was caught up in the web of child sex trafficking. To be an orphan in Svay Pak is a deadly combination and so many people took advantage of her as she was treated less than a human and even worse than an animal. But today Sparky is thriving at Newsong. Over the past year I have had the opportunity to talk to her via skype occasionaly and in one of those conversations, I discovered that she did not know her birthday so we agreed that her birthday would be the same as mind. For her birthday, she had requested a teddy bear and so I was able to find a white bear with a red sweater and label saying 'Canada." However at Newsong one cannot simply give a gift to one child since there are 59 other young girls hanging around and so I met up with one of the house mum's whose name is called 'Mom' so she could explain to Sparky's room mates that this was a birthday gift and pass it along to Sparky. Little did I know that little Sparky was hanging out at the back of the room I was in, looking in from the window behind where I was sitting. She had apparently made me a bracelet for my birthday but was too shy to give it to me so she asked one of her teachers to pass it along to me.
A birthday bracelet from Sparky
Two hours later after my meeting with Don, there sitting outside of the office was 4 little girls sitting on the steps....one of them none other than Sparky herself. As soon as she saw me, she got up smiled and then took up in a mad dash behind one of the trees. I barely had time to thank her for her beautiful gift before she disappeared from sight. In the weeks to come, I will have the opportunity to shadow some of the counselors and social workers at Newsong so I'm hoping with those visits that I will be able to connect with Sparky on a more personal level. For now, it is a joy to wear the bracelet she made for my birthday. It is certainly a reminder to not only pray for her but to be reminded about the beauty the lies within each of these precious ones and the capacity they have to give love in their own way despite the horrendous experiences they have endured.