‘I would give him the money, he would hit me and I would cry’

Mexico workThis story, from our team in Mexico, is a difficult one to read but it’s so important to hear about the reality of life on the streets. Jazmin has shown such bravery and now she is on the path to freedom too

‘When I was 16 years old I came to the city looking for an opportunity to study, work and raise some money to help my family.

I felt so alone. One day a guy started talking to me, he was so kind and nice with me. After a couple of weeks he asked me if I would like to live with him… I had fallen in love, so I thought this is wonderful, and I said yes! 

Next week we moved to another part of the country. He used to leave early and I had to stay at home. One day he told me that it was getting so hard to get a job so I needed to work. I agreed. He said that in the city there was a good opportunity for a job and that we could get our own place if I helped him.

So we travelled to the big city and he introduced me to his brother’s wife. She started explaining how to use a condom and telling me how much money I need to ask for 15 minutes with the ‘johns’.

Scared and alone

While she was talking I could not believe what I was going to do. I said no, of course no! Then she said if you don’t do this he is going to kill you and your family. I was scared and did what she said.

After too many hours my boyfriend picked me up from the hotel and asked for the money. I was crying and scared. I gave him the money and asked him why he did not tell me about this? He just laughed and hit me.

That was the beginning of a lot of pain, suffering and shame. For five years, night after night, I just remember the same… I would give him the money, he would hit me and I would cry.’

A heartbreaking turning point

Then, Jazmin got pregnant. Heartbreakingly the baby was used by her pimp to force her to carry on working; he would keep the baby from her unless she did what he asked. One day, Jazmin did not make enough money. When his fists did not provoke a strong reaction from Jazmin, the pimp turned his attention to the baby. Appalled, Jazmin cried out for him to stop and promised that she would make more money.

As awful as that moment was for Jazmin, it was also the turning point. She knew she had to get away from him to save her baby’s life and her own.

The next day, Jazmin made a lot of money and her pimp was happy. He agreed that she could go and visit a friend. Walking to the bus station, Jazmin carried the baby in her arms. When the bus arrived the pimp demanded that she give the baby back. She refused.

‘No, I’m not going to give my baby back to you,’ she declared. ‘And if you don’t leave I’ll shout loudly asking for help. I’m not kidding, all these people will know who are you.’

A courageous decision

Even with the Pimp’s threats ringing in her ears, Jazmin stood her ground. She got on the bus holding tightly to her little boy, her legs shaking, not knowing what to do next.

She went back to her parent’s house. They are very poor and Jazmin felt that the only way she could provide for her baby was to keep working as a prostitute.  ‘It’s the only thing I knew,’ she says.

Wonderfully for Jazmin, an outreach team supported by The Freedom Challenge have been working in Jazmin’s area. They have befriended her, prayed with her and encouraged her. Now, she wants to leave prostitution for good. The team are looking for a job for her and meeting with her each week, walking beside her and loving her just like Jesus would do.

You can help many more women like Jazmin to experience hope and healing – $150 sets one woman on a path to freedom. Join us – donate today!

 

Uhuru: ‘Freedom’ in Swahili

Kili climbAs this blog post goes out, two US women and 18 others are climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. We hope their words here will inspire you. Then, read on to find out how you can get involved and take up a challenge of your own!

 

Climbing Africa’s highest mountain is one of the most challenging treks in the world. It will take the women seven days to conquer the nearly 20,000-foot summit and temperatures may reach -20F at the top.

So why are they doing it?

Sarah, one of the climbers (pictured left), tells us what is going through her mind as she climbs:

“It’s the end of day two and we’re all feeling a little tired, a little sore. But happy and in good spirits.

“We’ve had a little bit more of a tough climb than we expected today. But we went up the side of the mountain over rocks and boulders and it was actually very beautiful.

“While I was climbing I was listening to a song called ‘You make me brave’ and I started praying for the Lord not only to make us brave and courageous to get up the mountain but also for the girls who are caught in trafficking. That he would strengthen them and make them brave, especially if they have choices that are hard to make. And so it was a good time of prayer as we were going up the mountain.”

The women are climbing for the freedom of the 30 million enslaved, exploited and oppressed women and children around the world.

“The Freedom Challenge Climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro is symbolic,” says Tina Yeager, director of The Freedom Challenge. “It’s the highest freestanding mountain in the world and its summit, Uhuru, means “freedom” in Swahili. Our comparably small sacrifice of giving up our home comforts, vacations and time with family pales in comparison to the suffering of these people.”

“The Freedom Challenge’s purpose is to be a voice for the voiceless; for those who cannot declare freedom in their lives and climb out of their circumstances on their own,” says Yeager. “The climb is merely a symbolic gesture of what women and children around the world go through every single day. It symbolizes their arduous climb to freedom.”

The good news is you don’t have to go to Tanzania to experience a Freedom Challenge climb. This year you can stay right at home in the US and come with us to The Grand Tetons in Wyoming in July.

You can hike or bike, you don’t need any experience, and you’ll discover for yourself all the joy, fun and exhilaration that Sarah describes above. What’s stopping you?

Find out more and sign up here: www.thefreedomchallenge.com/16-wyoming

Keep up-to-date with all the news from our climbers’ on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheFCUSA).

“I want to be a teacher to help poor children like me”

Sroem pic 2

Your support for The Freedom Challenge, helps girls like Sroem in Cambodia to overcome enormous hardship, and protects them from falling prey to traffickers. Sroem is now receiving an education – something that is changing her life and helping her to dream big dreams for the future. Read her story here:

“When I grow up I want to be a teacher, so that I can help poor children like me,” says 14-year-old Sroem.

She lives in Cambodia with her grandmother, So Bunne.

Sroem’s parents divorced when she was young. Thereafter, she lived with her mother and stepfather. When Sroem was six years old, her mother contracted a serious illness but did not have any money for treatment. Doctors refused to treat her and sent her home. A few days later, she passed away. In the same year, her stepfather died of hunger. Sroem’s world was turned upside down – she became an orphan.

Since then, Sroem’s grandmother has taken care of her even though they are very poor and have hardly anything to eat. They live in a simple house with Sroem’s nephews and grandfather. Sroem, despite her youth, has taken on the responsibilities of cooking for the family, washing laundry and cleaning the house.

Fortunately Phearun, a social worker at a Freedom Challenge-supported project in Cambodia (Mercy Teams International), got to know the family. “Although the family were in a desperate situation, the grandmother was committed to sending Sroem to school,” says Phearun. “Against all odds, she managed to send her granddaughter to school but did not have enough money for school uniform, textbooks and even food.”

“I know that getting an education is very important to Sroem,” says So Bunne. “Although we lack money, we can eat less. But Sroem needs to go to school.”

Sroem found out about the Karaoke Programme, computer and English courses at MTI and she started attending them in 2013. The Karaoke Programme provides vulnerable children with knowledge on self-protection from abuse and oppression. During the programme, MTI social workers train the children through interactive methods such as games, songs and drama.

Sroem pic

Given her strained financial situation at home, Phearun arranged for Sroem to be on the Family Sponsorship Program.

The MTI Family Sponsorship Program offers financial assistance to families living in Phnom Penh slums, primarily to help them send their children to school. In addition, they receive other support services such as counselling, social work, hospital and medical assistance, as well as training in child safety, hygiene and abuse issues. The goal is to see these families empowered to be financially independent.

Under the program, Sroem received financial assistance which goes towards her school fees, textbooks, uniforms, rice and supplementary pocket money to ensure that she can continue to receive an education and adequate nutrition.

Sroem, now in Grade 7, treasures the opportunity of studying. She is doing well academically, always coming top of the class. “I enjoy school life very much and have a lot of friends in school and MTI,” remarked Sroem, with a sweet smile.

“I am thankful for the MTI staff and supporters all around the world. Because of them, I can go to school and my family has enough food to eat,” says Sroem with gratitude. “In secondary school, I will study harder. I want to get a scholarship and study overseas.”

Your support really does change lives! $150 sets one woman on a path to freedom. Donate or join us at one of our events. In July, we’re hiking the Grand Tetons in Wyoming for girls like Sroem. Sign up here.