HANDMADE = HOPE, EQUADOR
In Ecuador, prostitution is legal for those of 18, so no help is provided to young women over the age of 18 to leave brothels, when most often they were deceived into beginning the work there in the first place. As a result, there is desperate need to rescue the young girls that are trafficked to these brothels before they reach the age of 18.
Even though Ecuador is a country of 13 million people, there is only one safe house available to girls who are rescued from brothels. The safe house is hidden for the girls safety and there is no safe place to send these girls once they are released from the safe house, after an average of 12 weeks.
Phil & Debi Douce, with International Teams, have been transforming the lives of former street boys for many years. They operate a home, Casa Gabriel, where 12-13 teenage boys live, attend school and are loved and discipled into devoted followers of Christ. Debi and her colleagues Desi and Miguel Zora (a former boy from Casa Gabriel), learned about the desperate situation trafficked and exploited young women face in Ecuador. The Lord has gradually opened doors for them to start ministering to the girls in the safe home and they are in the process of establishing a transition home for the girls once they leave the safe home called Casa Adalia.
While they are in the process of completing all of the necessary steps to open the transition home, they meet with the girls each week and have begun a project to provide the girls with the opportunity to earn money by making jewelry and invest in their lives emotionally and spiritually. Many of these young women have young children themselves and the income they earn from the jewelry project provides them with the money to care for their children and pursue their own dreams, including an education, to make a better future.
The profits from the sales of the jewelry made in this project are invested into the establishment of Casa Adalia, the planned transition home for these girls.
When Miguel was only 2 years old, his dad deserted his family. Miguel is the 5th of 6 children and the absence of his father made life very difficult for his family. When he was 12 he left to live on the street. There he learned to steal, smoke, drink, be part of a gang, and he became aggressive in all aspects of his life. When he was 13 his mother died leaving Miguel an orphan with deep sadness. After her death he continued living on the street with the same unhealthy behaviors for 4 more years. God saved him from death on many occasions while on the street. Fortunately, Miguel met people on the streets other than just gang members… God used His Church to reach Miguel through the local church and missionaries, Phil & Debi Douce who run Casa Gabriel, a home for street boys. Phil invited Miguel to live at Casa Gabriel and Miguel made the decision to change his life. It was challenging at first, but after seeking God, Miguel decided to live for Him for the rest of his life! Since then, his life has been transformed. He went back to school, graduated from high school and is now studying theology in order to serve God more fully. Today Miguel is 27, married and has a beautiful baby girl. Miguel currently serves with his wife, Desi, by managing the jewelry project with the young formerly trafficked girls. His transformation is a picture of God’s redemption and provides true hope to these young women that God love is transforming and restorative.
One Girl’s Story:
When I was a little girl I lived with my mom and sister. My mom was with a man, my step-father, who lived with us. I never got along very well with him. He would get angry very quickly and my mom always chose his side. One day, I was in the house with my sister, my mom wasn’t there, and he abused us many times. Finally, we were brave enough to tell my mom. She believed us and we all left him together. We were so happy that we’d no longer have to live with my step-father.
A few days later, he found us and after a lot of discussion, my mom told us that we were going to return to live with him. She told us that everything we had said was a lie. We were scared. The abuse became worse than it had been before.
When I was about 14, my friend and I decided to run away from our families. My only regret is that I couldn’t take my sister with me. We ended up on the coast of Ecuador. It was late and we didn’t know what to do, so we sold a pair of shoes for some money and we looked for a job. The first job we got was in a bar selling drinks. There were so many drunks that after a few days we decided to leave.
We met a lady who told us about a clothing store where we could work. She took us to a huge, beautiful house and we were really excited. They promised us $130 a month which was a lot of money to us. Later, they took us to another place, gave us sexy clothes to dance in.The place they brought us to wasn’t a store, it was a brothel where we had to dance and have sex with the men who came in. The brothel had all underage girls. Every night we worked and during the day we cleaned the place up.
Often the men fought over us. When they did, the brothel owner took away some of our money. At the end of the month, we always had debts so we had to work more. We never saw a single dime. Because of the debts, we had to keep working, hoping to one day get enough money in order to leave.
When I was 16 I got pregnant, but I don’t know who the father was. I stayed in the brothel during my whole pregnancy. When my daughter was born they gave me permission to register her with the government. The woman in the government office asked me where I worked. At first I told her I worked in a restaurant, as I was afraid they would tell my boss and I would get in trouble. But as I talked more with her I decided to trust her. She told me that if I came back the next day, she could take me out of there and send me to a safe home. I returned the next day and she did what she said and sent me to the safe home in Quito. It is there where I met the wonderful people with Casa Adalia, who have helped me heal spiritually, physically and emotionally and are now helping me complete my education and earn money making jewelry. I am truly grateful.