Tuesday afternoon I split off from the team to go work with the Dunamis Foundation in Quito. I took a taxi/shuttle that stopped in Tena to pick up 3 men (none of the 4 spoke English) and rode the shorter 5 hour route to Quito past land slides and beautiful countryside. Just for reference, Ecuador drivers don’t use road signs, rules, or any other of the driving habits we’re used to – horns are quite popular though!
Last year on the trip to Ecuador, my daughter Rachel and I stayed in Quito to work with Dunamis the whole trip, so it was great this time to be able to visit both the jungle and the Fundacion. I stayed with Boris’ (Dunamis’ director) mother-in-law, Monica, again and loved every minute! Dunamis works with government foundations to teach girls rescued from sex trafficking about God’s love for them, life skills, and various opportunities to learn a trade such as sewing, making jewelry, and computer programs. I teach them how to make jewelry with polymer clay so that they can add that to their jewelry made from the local tagua nuts. (Check out my blog to learn more about the girls, Dunamis, and our work together at http://robinwilkinsondesigns.blogspot.com)
There were 5 girls in the current program with ages ranging from 13-17 and one baby with another on the way. Many times their families sell them into sex trafficking. One of the girls was rescued from Columbia guerrillas when she was forced to transport drugs to Quito. Her two year old daughter is still in Columbia. Dunamis helps the girls to understand that God does indeed love them and that they have other opportunities for work, life, and their children. It is heartbreaking to hear their stories, but they are beautiful, spirited girls who need healing and hope.
One of the girls who now works with the Dunamis team was in one of the first groups of rescued girls Dunamis was involved with. She finished the program, got a job in Quito and worked for several years before coming back to work with Dunamis. Last year we worked with 3 sisters ages 11, 13 (with a 1 year old baby), and 15. The government was about to move them out of the program and they had nowhere to go. They were to be split up and put in different government houses/programs. However, the foundations worked to keep them together and they are now all together in a Santa Domingo foundation run by nuns. God is providing hope in the midst of brokenness.
During my last morning with the girls, they shared what our time together meant to them and then prayed for me. I was overwhelmed by the inadequate lessons I shared, the enormous difference in our lives, and their long road ahead. The generous, loving, overcoming spirit of God is at work here in Ecuador and everywhere! God is good. All the time!