First of all, on Monday I officially began my time working for Camino a Casa, one of the few organizations in Mexico which provides a safe home for young girls who have been victims of sex trafficking. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to share life with these girls during my time in Mexico. The day started at the swimming pool and I delightfully watched the girls playfully float and swim in the reserved lane which God has provided for their enjoyment twice a week.
On Tuesday – it only got better – I was blessed to join iEmpathize www.iempathize.org (a US nonprofit organization doing amazing work against global human trafficking and child exploitation), since they were also helping out at the safe home. I helped them go shopping for several items for the girls and got to equally enjoy the hugs and smiles from each of the 20+ girls. And, I had fun being creative (and praying for guidance) as I helped to give several of the girls haircuts! I really enjoyed it, so I might even consider keeping it as a hobby for the future!
Then Wednesday, I traveled to Mexico state to observe an actual (oral) court hearing. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, most of Mexico’s court proceedings consist of presenting written material and having it filed by the court clerks or getting a judge’s written order. At the courthouse, somewhat similar to in the US: bags go through a scanner; people walk across a metal detector; and absolutely no food, drink, phones, or cameras are allowed. However, the judge does not have a back entrance but walks in after everyone is seated; people do rise for the judge’s entrance; the bailiffs all wear uniforms similar to that of flight attendants as well as a headset; and there is no court reporter but the bailiff captures some information on her computer. As far as legal process, the case consisted of a domestic violence case so technically it was a penal matter (or criminal law in the US), but the judge spoke as if it was a domestic relations/family matter. It was also interesting to observe how Mexican culture influences the dynamics of the court hearing.
Thursday was by far the most difficult. I joined the iEmpathize team on a visit with a Mexican nonprofit organization that helps street children by providing them meals, clothes, and allowing them to shower inside their facilities. Imagine listening to teenage boys tell you that they have been living on their own in the streets for more than half their lives and you’ll get a small glimpse of what I experienced. I kept thinking of my younger brothers and how blessed they are to have not only a home, but the support from a loving family that cares for them. One of the teenage girls had her five month old baby girl with her (wearing dirty baby clothes with several knots in her baby hair). One of the leaders shared that there were about eight babies that they knew were also living on the streets with their teenage parents. As we spent the day with the children, I observed how the young mom fed her little baby some chips and bottled Coke. It was all too much for me to take in – emotionally and physically. Mexico’s social services is not like the US and there is no such thing as state supported foster homes. There are generally private institutions and orphanages and if the kids have drug problems (which most of the street children do) then they have very limited living options. Thinking about their circumstances from a legal perspective, I can’t help but be upset about how these children are left to fend on their own. It’s as if they were little wild animals living out on the streets and procreating amongst each other; it’s all so very wrong. I can only hope and trust in God’s justice, and pray that He will equip leaders to implement better laws and effective programs to protect all these children.