Tomorrow morning, March 20, Ryan Jezdimir will again be en route to Nepal leading a Man Up team to support the anti-trafficking efforts of Our Daughters International. Please pray for their safety and their mission. This blog was written upon the return from his previous trip to Nepal.
In May of 2018, a band of 13 men from Kensington’s MAN UP DEFENDERS initiative traveled over 7,000 miles to see the women and girls of Nepal. And, in seeing they understood their story – a story shared by thousands of Nepali women and girls victimized annually by human traffickers. This story begins in small, remote villages in the hills of Nepal. The men trekked across mountains to visit these villages and to see the nearly inescapable economic conditions that entrap many Nepali young women and girls, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers. The men traveled from one village to the next through steep, rocky, and narrow trails.
The trails demanded breathable cotton or tech shirts, the best footwear – the kind promising durable leather, supportive footbeds, and heightened traction– and frequent rests to drink filtered water from their sparkling-new REI bottles and to snack on organic energy chews. When the men stopped to catch their breath, they enjoyed breathtaking mountainous vistas spread out before them. For the men, these trails offered adventure and beauty.
These same landscapes and winding trails presented a different experience for the Nepali women and girls: a dangerous one. Traversing the trails to collect water for their families or make the one-hour journey to school made them vulnerable to traffickers. The American men passed a young woman shepherding goats down the hill. They encountered an older woman carrying a large basket full of greens on her head. They crossed paths with a group of young school girls on their daily commute. The men saw each one of them. The men saw their strength and courage. They also saw their vulnerability.
Later, the men were brought to a Training Center and Safe House for women and girls who had been rescued from trafficking. One young girl shared her own story with the men – she had been rescued from a brothel where she had been forced to do unspeakable things an unspeakable number of times every day. The men heard from a young Muslim girl—still a teenager—who, through tears and while hiding her face in self-assumed shame, told the men how her family burned the bottoms of her feet, locked her in a closet with a snake, and took her kids away from her. All because she had brought a very small dowry to her arranged marriage.
Each woman and girl in the Training Center and Safe House shared similar heartache.
In Luke 7:44, Jesus “turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.’” And so, it was asked of each Man Up Defender: Do you see the Nepali women? Do you see the Nepali women as Jesus does? The 13 American men did. They saw the brokenness. But, even greater, they saw their love of God and their love for each other. They saw Survivors. Sisters. Daughters. Leaders.