A Phone Call from Jail
|Danny presenting on Identity to Planning 10 students at RE Mountain Secondary|
You may not believe me, but getting a phone call from jail is good news. Great news, actually! It means that she is still alive.
I’ve cried many tears over this kid who is hardly a kid anymore. Although she is in her mid-twenties, I still picture her as the spunky and sassy 11-year-old that loved to sing and dance. Those dreams were ripped away from her as she was recruited into the sex trade at the age of 14. My coworkers and I spent many hours praying for the safe return of this young lady. We worked with police and ministry officials to connect her with help but try as we might, she kept slipping back into the lifestyle and the pull of drug addiction. It was this experience that got my team and I involved in becoming local experts on sexual exploitation awareness and human trafficking prevention. In many ways, this work solidified our partnership with the school district. The brutal truth of our work was that this was never a concept that we were teaching, it was reality. The issue had a face.
I last saw her two and a half years ago. She was released by the court into my custody and a volunteer and I transported her to a program that specializes in these cases. She didn’t stay. I had not heard from her since, so the phone call I got from the jail at least meant one thing; she was alive. It also means that, despite all odds, she remembered my phone number and that 12 years later I am still in a place to answer her call. We don’t have much time to talk on the phone, but she asked for my address and hand wrote a nine-page letter of her life story and her rebound hope for the future. At the end of the letter, which she addressed to my co-worker Derian and I, she added this paragraph;
“I’m rather looking forward to having the chance to sit and talk, openly and freely with you two, about what life has been like and the things I’ve done and the experience I’ve endured since I was the bubbly yet broken teenager you guys once knew… and I don’t mean it in the sense that I’m going to enjoy re-living all those moment, but what I’m getting at is it’s comforting and nice to know that I’ll be heard.”
As I read it I felt that is was a moment I needed to share with all of you who use your resources to invest in my work with youth and have allowed me to be a consistent caring adult in the lives of youth like this. Remember that because of your partnership there is someone there to listen to the
heartbreaking stories that this girl experiences as her reality, and that she is not just listened to but actually heard.
- Danny Ferguson