Monday, December 05, 2016

questions for superman

Today is a happy day for many children in the Netherlands. It is the celebration of St. Nicholas, who brings them toys and candy. It is a memory making day, a day to dream of what the evening will bring. Something you'd wish for all children. Unfortunately, there are also children who are forced to use their imagination in almost superhuman ways in order to construct their dreams.

The photo links to the story of Supermaarko. (For Dutch readers, the story can be found here). It is the painful story of a 7-year-old in the Philippines, a victim of cybersex crime. A little hero who survived until help came. A hero because he tried his best to protect his little sister against bad people, when he was too small for the job.

When sharing such stories, I ask myself why I would do so. In talking about the Red Sand Project (Dutch link here, English link here), I have wondered about it's purpose: Awareness - why? What's the use?

Boys like Maarko are sold by their own parents. It is an impossible job for them to escape on their own strength. Imagine how desperate parents must be to look for such drastic measures to escape the poverty of their lives. It is because of a demand in Western countries that such 'business opportunities' can exist. That fact makes it more than a local problem and perhaps even our problem.

Awareness. Why is it a necessary ingredient to bringing justice?

There is a very simple answer. If we don't know, we will do nothing. And we can do something. We can create a positive circle of action.
International Justice Mission wants to free all slaves. It sounds like an impossible job, but the people of good will are many.

Personally, I am still getting over Maarko's question for superman: "Did you ever have to hurt the ones you loved the most?"
Is it what Maarko's mom felt she had to do? Is it what Maarko was forced to do, when he so desperately wanted to be his little sister's keeper?
It is a story of the deepest failure. It is a story of the brightest of hopes, because if hope can be restored in such darkness, then the worst of evil can be conquered. 

Maarko was abused in the cybersex industry. Now his story is used as a testimony to tell others how important it is to find boys like him. It reminds people worldwide of our collective responsibility for the children of this world. Some of them have no one who takes care of them, only people who hurt them. Those who care are not too far away to step into the story.

bubbles by Maarko through IJM,

I wrote about Liberia on this blog, a year ago in a post on bubbles:
Liberia hasn't bounced off on me like a soap bubble, I guess. The more you really meet and see people, especially those who are hurting, the more you end up a little heart-broken yourself. And I think that's a worthwhile experience.
And so it is with stories like Maarko's. They mustn't bounce off and leave us unaffected. They must leave marks on our hearts. Not just uncomfortable marks, but also prints of hope that the world can be changed. Without this hope we become indifferent, apathetic. This is the only reason that makes it worthwhile for Maarko to share his story: to involve us in freeing more children like him!

Want to get involved? Feel free to ask me how to take steps towards that! Not a career change. Just a babystep towards more hopeful stories.

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