We don't know their stories, but each girl has one. They are tall and short, thin and not-so-thin, brash and reserved. Some of them show a sadness in their eyes deeper than you want to imagine, and others wear a mask that most of the world will never penetrate.
And they are children.
These are the young women living at Vista Maria, a foster care facility for at-risk girls in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Most of them are there to escape lives of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Some of them were rescued from human trafficking operations – which is a twenty-first century euphemism for slavery. They range in age from eleven to eighteen, but the average is about fourteen.
Let's put that into perspective. When I was fourteen years old, the girl I liked "went out" with me on our first "real" date. Her mom dropped us off at a theater to see a movie. I think it was The Great Race, because we were not allowed to go to the racy new Bond film, Thunderball. Then her dad picked us up and sat by himself at another table while I bought her a root beer float at A&W.
Sadly, these girls have lived in a very different world. And now they find themselves in the sanctuary of Vista Maria, getting the help they need as they try to rebuild lives that should be way too new and pure to need rebuilding. Last week, thanks to funding from NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, MI, my Lost Voices team had the incredible privilege to join in that effort.