The path to recovery of Isabel and Irene
(republishing, copying, no restrictions)
By: Father Shay Cullen
The courage and resilience of those young people abused and exploited is really amazing. Far from being totally destroyed and made helpless for life. Many, with the right treatment and support and affirmation can and do make great recoveries and go on to inspire and encourage other to recover, and fight back for justice and dignity. This story is a continuation of two young girls, twins who were sold into sex slavery and were scheduled to be trafficked to Japan. After they were abused in the home they were sold to the sex clubs. This the second part of their remarkable story of recovery and success.
PREDA received a report from a neighbor who saw the mother getting money from the Pimp in Olongapo and then knew where the twins had been taken. The PREDA Rescue Team then went to the sex club but they were not there and it was discovered that they were being trafficked to Japan and were in a staging house near the airport. The exact address was unknown and nothing could be done until suddenly one of the twins was able to escape and returned to the shack in Olongapo City. The neighbor texted PREDA on the hot line and immediately the PREDA rescue team scrambled picked up the mother and contacted police unit to respond and assist the rescue. They were just in time. Isabel was still in the house full of young girls being trafficked to Japan.
The flight schedule was pinned up on the wall. The pimps arrived and began to argue with the police claiming that they had an understanding with the police chief. But the police we had with us were from a different station. While they were busy discussing the pay off, the Preda team went into the house with the mother and found Isabel. They hurried her out into the van and speed away before anyone could stop them. It was clear that there would be no investigation and no arrests. If only we could have rescued all the girls it would have been a great days work but fortunately it was impossible. The girls were teenagers and one of then had a baby.
In the PREDA Home for Girls, the twin sisters were provided basic needs like shelter and protective custody, legal assistance, education and emotional release therapy. They cried and screamed for hours as they released their years of pent up anger and fear and hatred of the abuse done to them. They both gradually released the pain and hardship buried deep inside and was able to freely open up to the therapists. Soon they were both participating in the games, group dynamics and training sessions that helped them to start life all over again free from abuse and exploitation.
The mother felt sick and wanted to get the children out of the children’s home but that we believed was a ploy to traffic them again. However we bought her a sewing machine and trained her to sew recycled drink pouches into carrier bags. She did well and was able to support herself and gave up trying to get the girls to run away so the pimp could get them. The occupational therapy during semester breaks was a way for the girls to earn pocket money and feel a sense of independence. All 16 and above were earning good money for themselves and their families by sorting and arranged the drink pouches according to type and size. They all sat together singing and laughing as they do this worthwhile and simple chore in their spare time. The work is light and has an empowering influence on them then they go to the market and buy gifts for their parents and personal things for themselves.
These throwaway drink pouches left around schools and canteens give the collectors a good income. They are given to the family based sewing groups and they have been trained as quality sewers. They make them into fashionable high quality brightly colored bags and back backs of all designs. They are selling well in many countries abroad and are a terrific recycling project that helps keep families together and prevents trafficking and child prostitution.
Today Isabel and Irene have both graduated from high school and are presently enrolled in college studying social work. One day they will quality and will be back at the Preda home for girls as social workers rescuing abused children and saving those children trafficked and enslaved as they once were. End. (Fr. Shay's book, Passion and Power, An Irish missionary's fight against child sex slavery, will be published in Ireland 1 November 2006)