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Hope is an essential, yet incredibly fragile gift. In the life of a child who has endured incredible amounts of trauma and pain, hope is merely a concept. It is the out of reach belief that maybe someday, in some way, things will all be okay. When a child identifies with any kind of hope, we as their supporters and cheerleaders are there to encourage it, breath life into it, and protect it. It’s fragile, you see, because there are 100 different forces coming against their small seed of hope, versus the handful of forces that are breathing life and love over it. It’s a challenge. And uphill battle, if you will. But the beauty is that it’s there. And when you see it in a child’s eyes, hear it in their words or see it in their actions, we fight for it. We run with it. We open up all the doors and windows and let the light shine on it, because it will conquer. It doesn’t erase the past or dissolve the pain, but it reassigns the fear of their past becoming the reality of their future.
I’ve seen hope play out in many different ways with the girls that we serve. There is the hope that the trauma will one day end. The moment where they are found, after weeks of being missing and trapped in a life of chaos and exploitation, and they have experienced the fruit of their hope. Mostly, it’s a fleeting moment we see, as trauma manifests in so many different ways that their bodies and psyches are doing all they can to protect them from pain. But it’s there.
There’s also the hope in something so much greater than themselves. The hope of a fulfilled life. The hope of a future. The hope of taking their experiences, their trauma and pain and using it for good. The biggest compliment I have ever received is a client telling me that she wanted to be a victim advocate, because of the relationship we had. There is hope for them in knowing that there is purpose in the pain.
We stand in that hope with them. We stand and hope they are found when they go missing. That they will be safe when they are running from a hundred different forces against them. That they will achieve all their hopes and dreams. That they will come alive again with the hope and purpose inside of them.
If we can’t give them anything else, we give them hope that they are more. They are more than the trauma they’ve endured. They are more than the identity that was given to them before they were able to find their own. That they are incredibly resilient, kind, bright and brave children who are learning the dance of life, and who are hoping in something so much greater.