Well, life isn't always so. But today, the girls experienced a life so beautiful and grand. Generously sponsored by one of OBV's partners, we took the girls to a private beach resort from January 11-12. Many of them have never seen an ocean before! Others have never been in a hotel. None have experienced such fun and luxury. It was a joy for us to see the girls so happy and carefree. They were able to be and act like real children. The sparkle in their eyes shone so bright that I had forgotten their past.
Father Martino quickly reminded us that the "normal" we saw in the girls on the outside is not homologous to how broken they are in the inside. The girls slept together, not with us, because at the end of the day, they do not trust us. They have been betrayed so many times before. The girls are able to be "carefree" as we put it because they are protected in the presence of their "daddy", Father Martino, and their "mommy", Sister Ngoc.
"D." had caught Duy, one of the male members of our group, staring at her during dinner. Admittedly, he stated he was in awe of her innocence and tragedy at only 7 years of age. She quickly called him on it, and without embarrassment, said to him, "What are you looking at? If you keep looking at me that way, I will tell daddy". Everyone around the table laughed, though in her eyes you can see distrust.
What was really touching about this day was that during karaoke that night, "H.Y.", 20 years old, stepped outside in tears. I quickly followed her and asked her to come back in. When asked what was the matter, she was silent at first. She simply said, "I'm just emotional". Then she stated, "I have never felt a sense of family before as I do now with all of you here". This is coming from a girl who from the age of 9 to 19 was raped ruthlessly by her 3 older brothers and uncle. Her mother died when she was 13 years old, and her father suffers from mental illness. She never had a sense of love and family. She is damaged. At home she often climbs to the top of a tree to scream her lungs dry when she is angry, or when she has flashbacks of her past. I cried that night thinking about what she said and it affirmed my purpose on this trip. At the very least, I want to offer these girls my love. I will be their family and they will be mine.