… And then the phone rang. Before the final pronouncement of “sold!” Dorcas* answered her phone.
“Where are you?” I asked from the other end of the line.
“At the airport. We are starting to board,” she replied.
“It’s just something I have to do. My children need to go to school.” But her voice was wavering.
I was too shocked to say more, so I gave the phone to Ibrahim. He was almost shouting: “Your children need you here. You won’t be able to talk to them, even on the phone. You will not see the money they are promising you. You will be a slave.”
Dorcas was convinced. She exited the boarding area, retrieved her luggage (with the miraculous intervention of an airline agent), and brought a bus to our house.
“I have heard the stories. I know I was going to work as a slave. But I still believed they would pay me,” she reported later. “I want to be sure my children go to school. I didn’t see any other options for their future.”
Dorcas had not come to this point of desperation easily. Her husband passed away in 2005, leaving her with 5 children, including Emmanuel* who was severely disabled. Jealousies in her in-law’s polygamous home and traditional tribal customs meant that she was totally on her own. Over the next several years, the family moved from one house to another – each subsequent move representing a step down the socio-economic ladder. Her children, who had known a middle-class lifestyle, found themselves living in the Kibera slums.
Despite the challenges, Dorcas’ faith was very strong. Her life focus was caring for Emmanuel, and because of his condition, she was able to source financial assistance for his upkeep and medical expenses. When Emmanuel passed away in 2009, all the assistance to the family stopped abruptly. Dorcas had concluded that the only way to see her children through school was to sell herself as a slave. She had convinced her oldest daughter to take over the role of mother as she would be out of the country for at least two years.
Now, after exiting from that fateful flight, Dorcas showed us a copy of her ‘contract’ for domestic work in this Middle-Eastern nation. The ‘letterhead’ had neither an address nor phone number. She had surrendered her identification documents, including birth certificate, to this incognito ‘company’ already. Another friend of ours, Jane*, met with her to narrate how she, too, had been lured into a similar contract several years before. She told about the 20-hour-a-day working conditions, the abuse, repeated rape, lack of communication with family, her doubts about every getting back to Kenya again, and her miraculous escape.
We praise God that Dorcas is now safe and united with her children. But the challenges that drove her to this drastic step are still very real. The battle against modern-day slavery www.stopthetraffick.com is one that we fight one life at a time. As we celebrate Christmas, I am reminded that Jesus came to bring peace on earth, to set captives free, and to provide life in abundance.
May we be His channels for peace, freedom and abundance for the world into which He came!
Peace and joy to you this Christmas!
*All names have been changed.