Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Eliza* is the project manager at Redlight Greenlight. She shares about some of the deep hurt she and the other carers try to support the girls to live with and grow from.
Loud wails rose into the office at Redlight Greenlight from the girls’ residence two stories below. I ran down the uneven stairs to find Manisha trying to force the door open.
She was crying, “I want to go home! I want to go home!” Though she was taller and much stronger than me, the look on her face reminded me of a three-year-old, lost and wailing for her mother.
Manisha’s wailing soon turned into banging her head against the wall. One of our caregivers appeared, whispered something into her ear, and gently moved her away from both the door and the wall. Her cries continued.
This became a pattern with Manisha. She had been with us for almost a year, but her agitation – related to manic depression – suddenly escalated. Her outbursts were causing Redlight Greenlight to become emotionally and physically unsafe for the other girls. She would now often hit and pinch the other girls with no apparent reason. The team tried everything – counselling, encouragement, rewards, punishment – with little effect.
Though we wanted to facilitate her transfer back home, Manisha’s court case, in which she may have to testify against her abusers, was still pending. We were also still unsure if it was safe for her to return home - would she be protected or pressed back into the trafficking industry? Like most of the girls at Redlight Greenlight’s home, Manisha had been rescued out of the sex trade. Returning home was a complicated process.
A few days later we were trying to calm Manisha down from another outburst when screams started in another room. Leaving Manisha with the caregiver, I walked into the living room to find Sapna, a girl brought to us after being raped. She was on the couch, arms bent and fists tightened, her whole body was shaking violently, and her face twisted with cries of pain.
“Oh God, please help these girls! And help us!” I prayed.
Suddenly, Sapna fainted. About the same time, Manisha also quieted down. Silence.
The next day during our evening church Bible study, our pastor spoke about how David expressed such anguish of spirit in the Psalms. He taught that we must face the deep, raw brokenness in our own hearts in order to move into worship, and this brokenness we face every day can be transformed into a deeper understanding of God.
Eventually, Manisha’s court process finished, and with all roadblocks removed, she could return home. Our social worker and a caregiver escorted her to be reunited with her parents and I may never see her again.
It’s hard to say how much we helped Manisha before she left. However, caring for her reminded me that we need to keep facing the pain and brokenness that the girls bring. And often we are surprised at how the girls with us are finding God in the middle of their cries.
One night we got a call that Amira couldn't wake up from a nightmare. When I went into the dorm to check on her, I found her lying on the top bunk, fighting an unseen foe with her arms waving wildly. Her eyes were shut tight as she said, "Don't kill me! Go away! Please don't kill me!"
I tried to bring her back to the present, assuring her that she was safe and prayed over her. After a few minutes, she managed to open her eyes and started calming down.
As I soothed Amira, I realised that another girl, Rita, was slowly sweeping the floor. Despite Amira's cries, Rita had continued cleaning, unbothered. As she neared Amira's bunk bed, she looked up and said, "Oh Amira. The same thing used to happen to me a lot. Just pray to God - He will give you peace." She moved on with her broom, then looked back at me and flashed a smile.
Facing the cries of trauma is never easy. However, along with Rita and Kushi, we are learning that pressing into them is the best way to understand God's heart in brokenness.
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