Over the years I have shared numerous stories about V, a young woman who has been coming to Sofia Baptist Church since she was a small child. Although she did not go to school, she participated in the literacy program at the church for many years, learning some basic literacy skills. She came regularly to Sunday worship, and she was baptized in the church a few years ago.
While still a teenager, she “married” (a rather loose, non-binding term in her culture) and had two children, a girl, now six, and a boy who is three years old. Her husband is in and out of jail, and is not involved in their lives. After a long, unexplained absence in church, she showed up again one Sunday a few weeks ago. She told me she had been in England for some months as a “mail order bride” (or “e-mail order bride”, best as I can describe it). She had gone there to meet a man who had paid for her ticket, get to know him and decide if she wanted to stay with him. She decided she did not, so she returned to Bulgaria. After this shocking news, she continued to tell me that she was leaving the following week to go work on the island of Cypress. A “friend” promised her that she could work in a restaurant there and make 800 euros per month, a vast fortune for V. This sounded too good to be true to me, and I warned her about the huge possibility that this was a trap to get her there to work in prostitution as many Bulgarian women are trafficked to Cyprus, but she insisted it would not be. When she told me the following week that the “friend” had arranged and paid for her ticket to Cypress, I was pretty sure what she’d be getting herself into. I’ve not heard a word from her on Facebook since she left, which is another ominous sign.
She had basically abandoned her two children—the girl to her former mother-in-law who talked of selling the girl when she was first born, and her son to her sister who has no job and already has many children to care for in the Roma ghetto—so that she could go to both England and Cypress unencumbered. V's decision to go to Cypress will change her life, and I fear not for the better. It will also have a huge impact on her children’s lives, whom she may or may not ever see again. This is the kind of situation that makes me wonder what I should have said or done differently to keep her from going, and a feeling of helplessness remains. Please pray for V's safety, and if she is trapped in the web of human trafficking, that she will realize it and be able to escape. Pray for the safety of her two children, and that they may someday be reunited with their mother.