Monthly Archives: February 2012

Fuego

Prostitution has been the main source of income for the women at Casa de Esperanza. Leaving prostitution means these women must find another way to support themselves and feed their families. So the past four days I’ve been training women how to batik fabric. And they’ve been teaching me how to put out fires. Literally.

Yesterday while melting wax, the heat burned a hole through the pot. The wax caught on fire and within seconds the flames spread beyond my control. I was panicked. Thankfully, several of the women in my class (along with Jan) were able to quench the flames. Nothing was lost that can’t be replaced and no one was hurt. And I learned a valuable lesson: water isn’t the solution to an oil-based fire.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, here’s a primer on how to batik:

Heat candles over the stove (try not to set them on fire)

Dip tools in hot wax

Create a pattern on muslin

Soak muslin for 1 hour in dye, stirring occasionally

Rinse in clear water and hang to dry

Iron fabric between newsprint or paper towels to remove wax

Ta-da!

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Marisol’s face

Marisol tugs on my hand and looks up at me with her big brown eyes asking me to hold her in my arms. I reach down to pick up her tiny frame, just six years old, and I can see the sadness on her face.

“¿Qué comiste ayer, Marisol? Estas tan pesado!”
(What did you eat yesterday? You’re so heavy!)

She giggles; the dimples frame her toothy smile. But my joke is short-lived and can’t disguise the pain behind her eyes.

Marisol came to Casa de Esperanza last year after she and her sister, Carla, were rescued from a child brothel.
Marisol was only 5 years old at that time. Carla was 7. Their aunt had sold them into prostitution.

When I look into her eyes, there is something missing. The innocence of childhood is lost.

My heart is heavy. Before this trip I knew human trafficking existed, but now it has a face. I wish I could show you Marisol’s face, but to protect her I cannot.

Prostitution is legal in Nicaragua, but child prostitution is illegal. Managua is considered one of the largest export cities for human trafficking. An estimated 60% of the trafficked women in the Western Hemisphere are Nicaraguan.

There are 139 registered brothels in Nicaragua.
There are 11 declared child brothels, but numerous clandestine brothels.

These are the harsh realities of this place, but Casa de Esperanza is a light in the darkness. It is a refuge, a family, a training center, and a home for these women, young girls, and a few young boys.

;

Sneak Peek

Still processing the first two days; when my thoughts can form a coherent sentence I promise to write a reflection. In the meantime, here are a few photos…

hanging the batiked fabric out to dry

the young girls returning from primary school

afternoon siesta in the girls dormitory

campus housing at Casa de Esperanza

Elizabeth and Hillary (wearing a dress made by our sewing team)

Hiking Through Life

En route to Nicaragua I’ve had a few hours of silence to reflect on life. And musing about the unconventional path I’ve been walking along stirred up memories from my childhood.

Its early in the morning and someone is shaking me awake. “We’re going on an adventure hike. Get dressed and come downstairs.”

We gather in the backyard, grab walking sticks, and set off into the great unknown.

We live in predictable suburbia where streets look more like the grid on my graph paper than the undulations of trails in the natural landscape, but on this adventure hike, you’d never know there were any rigid lines at all.

Dad bypasses the street blocks and suddenly we’re on a grand detour through the wilderness, venturing through culverts below the highways and weaving amongst tombstones in cemeteries or stumbling over wooden crates dying in an abandoned building.

At times I close my eyes or abandon the walking stick so I can hold more tightly to Dad’s hand, frightened by the dark, damp, and unfamiliar spaces. But I’m never in any real danger and by the time we arrive back at the house, I’m exhilarated. Exhausted, but exhilarated.

The spontaneity of Dad’s adventure hikes used to thrill me. Age has tempered that thrill of risk and uncertainty with a strong desire for structure and routine. I’d prefer to map out my own plans.

But no matter how hard I try to control it, life seldom colors within the lines of my own pretty pictures.

Right now, life looks more like a scribble than a neat and tidy picture. I can’t make out the final image.

And since I don’t know the details of what life will look like next year, my life feels like its in-flux and in-between.

I’m trying to rewind the clock far enough to recall those adventure hikes of my childhood. To remember what it felt like to follow with reckless abandon because I trusted Dad to lead me.

I’m not sure if Dad was trying to impress a lesson upon me but I’m struck by this thought:

God’s leading me on an adventure hike right now. I may not know what the next step is and I may need to hold on to His hand a bit more tightly, but what if I chose to release my control and find joy in the uncertainty?

Whirlwind

Do you ever feel like the world around you is spinning and each day is a struggle just to keep your head on straight?

So many wonderful things have happened since I returned from my latest visit to Congo, but most notably, I am engaged to be married to a wonderful man who loves me despite the ways I am often unlovely. I am eagerly planning a wedding and looking forward to being Mrs. Christopher Walker.

The other exciting news is that I’m traveling to Managua, Nicaragua today! It may seem last minute, but I’ve had it booked for over a month. I just haven’t had time to blog about it. I’m doing very similar work to what I was doing in East Africa, providing artistic training to women and children who have been rescued out of prostitution.

I am joined by a small team of teachers, artisans and medical professionals who will work with me to meet the practical and spiritual needs of the 40+ women and children currently living at House of Hope (Casa de Esperanza).

My focus is sewing instruction, fabric batiking, and jewelry making. One of the artisans joining me, a professional potter, will be building a kiln and teaching women to make beads out of local materials for their jewelry business.

Please PRAY

  • that God will shape my attitude toward the women and girls to see them as He does, precious and valued
  • that my time will be profitable to the women in both economic and spiritual growth so that they can provide for their families
  • that God will keep the team safe and healthy
  • that this whirlwind will slow down long enough for me to really enjoy the journey and be fully present in Nicaragua

More posts coming over the next few days…