The concrete is my bed. The bars behind which I live only part when Iím called on to perform for a man. Itís the reason I get to wash up. Itís the reason I get to eat. Sleep escapes me. I shiver in the cold, as this thin sheet holds no warmth. Darkness envelops me until my eyes adjust. I long for a cup of cold water. I cringe at your touch.
After my mom and dad were killed, I lived on the streets until a group of men pulled me into the back of their van, along with the other children taken from the streets. They promised me a good job. I thought Iíd come into the embrace of caring arms again with this promise, but I soon realized my purpose was to satisfy the needs of the boss and his paying customers.
ďWhat did I do to bring this on? Why did this happen to me? What about my little brother and sister? Where are they? How can I escape? What if Iím caught? Oh God, if there is a God, please help me.Ē Questions are as a windstorm blowing sand in my eyes.
I dream of playing ďkick the ballĒ with my brother and sister. The moments I drift off to sleep take me to days when daddy made the sounds of dance on the djembe. I jumped around with the other children, holding hands with one another as our circle went first in one direction then the other.
We woke up with the rising of the sun, when the first chore for the day was to get water. Now I yearn for the next small cup of water Iím given. Itís never enough. I could drink and drink, but the bottom of the cup goes dry before I realize I drank it so fast.
I donít know how long Iíve been here, as I have no way to keep track of time, but it seems like forever. I survive by allowing myself to feel nothing. I didnít have to think about it, it just happened. I canít stand to look at myself. I donít recognize who I am. I know my name is Natasha, but the ďmeĒ I knew is gone.
Some of the girls have babies born into this dreadful place. I hear their cries at night when their child has been torn out of their arms.
I see what happens to the girls who are ďused up.Ē Theyíre thrown back out on the streets, and left to die. For every ďused upĒ child three more take their place.
ďWhere is the hope? I wish this was over. Iím not sure I can do this another day, and act as though I want to please the next customer. How can I rescue my little brother and sister? Where would we go?
Twenty-seven million people are slaves today, just like me.
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