Restoring Innocence

17 Nov

The young girl was standing by the side of the street. Maybe 18 years old. Tall, slender, and beautiful. She was dressed for the part…taut bodice that, proceeding from neck to waste, started too late and ended too soon. Her skirt was slung from low on her hips and challenged her ability to sit or bend in a modest manner. But modesty was not her purpose. She was there for “business”.

We were there for business as well and so we began to pull the van to the curb. Our business and her business had an intersecting point in the night on the streets of Addis Abeba. Our van halted and the side door was flung open in the same instant. And in that moment, her sensual smile faded to embarrassment and shame. Her arms that had been cocked on her hip bones fell limp at her side and her willowy chin lowered to her chest.

“Helen, indatnesh?” (How’s it going?) was the counselor’s first greeting, her smile remaining constant not betraying the recognition of the young girl as the daughter of her long ago, good friend. The counselor sprung from the van and continued the banter in a light-hearted friend to friend casualness. “Is business good tonight? It’s getting late. Are you cold? Can we chat in the van, we will pay for your time.” After Helen’s brief hesitation, while she stared at the currency in the counselor’s hand, she agreed to the interview and hopped into the van.

She had been in prostitution for three years. Her mother was now bedfast with HIV and Helen had a younger brother at home. Her mother knew about Helen’s “business” and in fact as a single mother, she had taught her 14 year old Helen the trade.  After she became aware that she was HIV positive, Helen’s mother may have thought that there was no other hope for her infant son. Only desperation, would risk HIV roulette with a daughter to save a son.

With closer inspection, Helen’s cheek bones protruded just a little too much and her eye sockets were just a little too deep and dark. And she really was just a little to thin. The first signs of being HIV positive. She had only gone to school through grade two. She knew no other life and had no other skills. She sat in the van speaking in barely more than a whisper with her head cast down the whole time. We asked her to come and check out our rehabilitation program in our drop-in facility. We told her if she was not feeling well she could come for free medical care at our clinic. We passed along no judgment and no condemnation…just a chance for an escape to have hope in her heart that an alternative was possible. She made no commitment and left the van with tears on her cheeks. What more can you say except to God?

5 Responses to “Restoring Innocence”

  1. Ed Schwartz November 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    So thankful that the effectiveness of bringing the Gospel in love, humanitarian relief and medical help is so very effective for Him!

  2. Aimee Stoller November 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    Such a heart breaking story. May God keep her and her family in the shadow of His wings, covering them with His strength & mercy.

  3. Ann November 18, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    Heartbreaking to read. Thanks for being the arms of Jesus to girls like Helen.

  4. Klint November 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm #


  5. Sarah Fiechter November 20, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Allen & Susan, wow. Praying for Helen and many more like her. God bless and keep sharing hope with hearts.

    Lot’s of love,

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