She stands with her back to the kitchen sink, eating a snack after coming home from her work as a care aide at an old folks home. When introduced, she barely smiles and says little.
Her age is hard to guess. She looks younger than my 20-something daughter. But in experience, she is world weary old.
Raped at age 7 by her father. Sold into prostitution at age 9. Eight children. Eight different fathers. Four abortions. Drug addicted. Supplied by her pimp to keep her enslaved.
What does Maria know about love?
She doesn’t love her children – they are a constant reminder of how she has been abused by men.
After finishing a year of drug rehabilitation, Maria wondered what would happen to her next. If she went home to her father’s house, he would just return her to her pimp. What would she do with her children?
Enter Dorothy, a 60-something Canadian woman with a vision to help Mexican women. On a shoestring, much prayer, and a lot of gumption, she started up a women’s transition home where women like Maria can come and stay for one year.
As my husband and I walked through the kitchen, Dorothy asked Tim, “Do you know anything about fridges? I’ve defrosted this one and it fills with ice in a matter of days?” Tim took a look and couldn’t find anything wrong in such a short time.
“I’m teaching the women how to cook, how to make jam. We sell it in the market on Fridays.”
“The oven isn’t working just now.”
“Here’s our sewing room. We had someone out and now we have four machines working. A hotel in Canada donated their used linens and we are remaking them into usable sets and selling them.”
Maria lives here. With her children. With food. Warm beds. Safety. Maria’s children knew so little. Now they no longer urinate in corners of the house. They use cutlery. They attend school.
Dorothy helped Maria find a job. She loves it.
What does Maria know about love? Love accepts. Love helps. Love is patient and kind. Love acts.
As we left, Dorothy said, “Please pray that Maria will love her children. Please pray that Maria will know that Jesus loves her.”