Survivors send message

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Protect children, young people from harm

Editor’s note: Robynne Locke, a Seabrook native, is on a three-month odyssey of personal discovery and unselfish giving in India and Nepal. Her chronicles of this journey taken to work with victims of the area’s sex trade appears each Tuesday in the Hampton Union.

“Namaste, Madam!”

As I entered the room, the girls put their palms together at their chins to give me a traditional Nepali greeting, which means, literally, I bow to you.

“Namaste!” I greeted them back.

Taking my place on a cushion on the floor, I waited for the performance to begin.

I was attending a drama organized, written and performed by Nepalese survivors of the sex trafficking trade. The girls, ranging in age from 12 to 16, all live in a rehabilitation home run by ABC/Nepal, an anti-trafficking organization located in Kathmandu.

Over the past several months, the survivors have been participating in classes on acting and drama. The activity is meant to be therapeutic, and to provide an alternative way for the girls to share their experiences and express their emotions.

In addition, the performances are a highly effective way of spreading awareness of important social issues, such as trafficking, to the larger community.

Although the girls laughed and smiled and giggled as their peers recited their lines with enthusiasm, the issues covered by the performance were hard to hear. In 30 minutes, the skit told the story of a young girl who used and abused drugs and alcohol, a young boy who was involved in gang violence, and the teachers and parents who did nothing to stop them.

Despite the pleadings of the one “good” character in the story (the benevolent social worker who tried to persuade the youth, parents and teachers to mend their ways), the plot ended in tragedy, with the murder of the young girl.

As I sat and watched, I thought the moral of the story was obvious: It was a message to youth to not become involved in drinking, drugs and gang violence. However, as the final scene closed, three of the girls stepped forward to make a final statement.

“What did they say?” I asked my colleague, who had been translating the performance for me.

“They said, ‘The moral of the story is, know what is going on with your children and help them.'”

My initial interpretation was off the mark. While the message about the dangers of drugs and violence was clear, the message was not intended for young people as much it was for adults.

The adults are the ones who are supposed to protect their children from the dangers in the world, dangers that the youth themselves are often too young, too impressionable, too easily manipulated to manage on their own.

Yes, the survivors need empowerment. Yes, the survivors need life skills. Yes, they need awareness and education and training and every opportunity available to the children of more privileged or fortunate backgrounds.

But in the end, many of the survivors are just kids and, until they are old enough to protect themselves, the burden falls on us, the adults of the world, to educate ourselves on the threats faced by our children and to unite in our fight against them.

The kids know that it is our responsibility, and they are counting on us.

Anyone wishing to support Robynne in her efforts to help the survivors of the sex trade in India and Nepal can send donations to: The Survivors Fund, P.O. Box 2896, Seabrook, NH 03874.

source: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20091110-NEWS-911100312

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Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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