When a classroom of teenagers was asked if they thought it was okay to hit women, most of the boys raised their hands in agreement while the girls sat there awkwardly…quietly. When the same question was asked to a younger class not one student raised a hand at all. Beginning of Life (BoL) learned that they needed to reach children and take them under their wing at a younger age to create true behavioral and future societal change. Thousands of children are abandoned as social orphans when parents leave Moldova for better working opportunities overseas, leaving their children behind. In many cases the children/teenagers live without parental supervision, discipline, familial affection, or role models. As a response to this desperate need, BoL began a holistic youth program called Place of Change (PoC) 6 months ago that brings kids ages 11-16 together, twice a week, to receive lessons in smalls groups on various themes in a safe space and to share in community having both positive male and female role models as their instructors.
Today BoL invited over 100 youth from the PoC program on an all day retreat outside of the capitol in a wooded area. Upon arriving it was apparent that the retreat complex was probably once used for events where citizens pledged allegiance to the Soviet Union, but today it was being used for God’s purpose of speaking life into the youth while drawing out their personalities and abilities.
The first few hours the kids were divided into teams and had to work together to complete various team-building exercises. It was one of those rare moments where time stood still, just for a second, watching the kids completely immerse themselves into the present – not thinking about the abuse that might be waiting for them at home, or lack of guidance, love, or food, but just being in the moment with each other, making friends, learning, and just being a kid. We have learned, as a society, to stay out of the present by constantly regretting the past or worrying about the future while God is constantly calling us to delight in Him in the present. These kids were delighting in the present today.
The day continued to bring more interesting and unappetizing surprises with activities including a fish joust, which involved the kids working in teams to break raw eggs on their opponents foreheads (while on the back of a partner) with only one weapon – a slippery and size-able raw fish. The smells continued on with my personal favorite – chicken hockey. You too can learn to play this at home with the kids. It comes with a soapy tarp and mini broomsticks to smack around the puck – a raw chicken. Another group favorite was a game where the teams had to use only their feet to suspend a bucket of water, eggs, salsa, potatoes and any other disgusting item mixed together in the air until someone tipped the bucket.
To say that the BoL staff did a fantastic job today would be an understatement. This entire week we have watched the staff in awe, admiring their passion for changing the lives of youth centering around the issue of human trafficking, and sacrificing their time, sleep, and money to give all they can.
As our incredible week comes to an end our team is already discussing potential ideas that would benefit both BoL and our fight against sex-trafficking in the Washington Metropolitan Area. We know how blessed we are and it has been brought to our attention even more concretely after meeting so many amazing Moldovans and hearing their life battles, challenges, and hardships. God has called us to a serious assignment to speak for the voiceless and stand up for the powerless – whether in our own country or in another land. Our team, with the support of so many for this mission trip, will continue to answer His call in this fight against modern day slavery.
Will you join us?