04 July 2022

Lina’s story

We could not stop thinking about the newest girl in our home.  Her story is very complicated and heartbreaking, and yet the Lord has recently started to rewrite her story.  Hopefully reading this will help you to understand even further why Amparo exists.

“Scared, hunted and not knowing where to go.” That´s how Lina* (name given for the story*) felt, literally running for her life.

On Wednesday, the 15th of June we received a call from Childhood Services that broke our hearts and also reminded us why Amparo exists. They were urgently looking for a safe place for Lina.

She was found at a Rockola in Yapacani*, a small city 4 hours north of Santa Cruz*. The definition of a Rockola in Bolivia is a low end bar. This is a bar where people go to drink the cheapest drinks on the market, as low as drinkable ethyl alcohol mixed with a kind of kool-aid powder.  In each Rockola there are several young ladies, sometimes underage, waiting for men to arrive. The purpose of these ladies is to make men drink until they lose their conscience. Usually in Yapacaní, Rockolas have rooms in the back of the bar.  During the night these rooms are where drunk customers end up with drunk girls and all sorts of terrible things happen! During the day, these rooms are where the girls live, yes, the same rooms. For many of the ladies, their kids live there too.  As you can imagine, most of these girls are not there willingly, they are terrified to escape and there seems to be no way out.

So why did Childhood Services call us on the 15th?  Because Lina is 12.  Yes, you read right.  She is only 12 years old.

Lina was born and raised in a small town with little over 10.000 people, 5 hours south of Santa Cruz.  She lived there until she ended up in Yapacani.  Both dad and mom are alcoholics.  Mom gave birth to her when she was 15 years old and there was no healthy family structure found around her. Because of this lack of care at home, Lina spent a lot of time in the streets.  At the end of 2021, she was raped by a random man that took advantage of her vulnerable situation.  The man was sent to jail shortly after and  Lina was again placed with her parents by the local authorities.

A few weeks later, Lina went missing.   Right before she went missing, “a friend” introduced Lina to a dear older friend of hers.  In the beginning, she was super kind, interesting and charming.  Unfortunately, the lady was a pimp and ended up tricking Lina to travel with her.  She promised her a fun trip.  Lina never imagined she would end up in a brothel in Yapacani. Thankfully, a few days after she was able to escape the brothel and then ended up in a rockola.  She was found by Childhood Services a few weeks later. It was almost 5 months after she went missing that Childhood Services called us to see if we could help Lina. Today marks two weeks since Lina arrived at our home. Given the dire circumstances, she is doing really well and she had a warm welcome at our girl’s home.

Perhaps this all seems fictional and unbelievable to read. These are the reported facts stated by several Childhood Services officers in addition to Lina’s testimony being confirmed by the judge of the case.   While we have seen similar stories in Amparo, our hearts have been shaken by Lina’s story.  It is horrifying to know what happens around us. And we are overwhelmed by how patient and loving God is with us as humans.

So… Yes! This story is one of why Amparo exists! To protect, to serve and to restore girls that have experienced hell on earth.  It is by the grace of God she was rescued.  She is now in a safe place where she has the opportunity to know Jesus and have every need met.  We welcomed Lina because we are sure Amparo is the place where she will be cared for and immersed in God’s mercy.

Please, will you pray for Lina?  Pray for her to come to know Jesus.  Pray for her to be set free of the terrible bondage that was set upon her.

We visited for a little over 3 years the very same neighborhood in Yapacani where Lina was kept in a rockola. A very dark place, full of these places. But it is in the darkest places where Jesus’ light shines the brightest.

Usually you can’t get near these places but God gave us grace with the right people in order to be allowed in.

Some real pictures, taken during our activities at the place.

March 2019. Drawing in the midle of a rockola. Those 3 girls and boy, all under 6, live in the back rooms of a rockola with their moms. In the back you can see a more than 19 boxes of empty beer, each box contains at least twelve 1 liter beers, that’s a lot of beer.

October 2019. In the back you can see a young lady drinking with a man, surrounded by little kids at noon.

September 2020. Distributing a copy of the ‘Superbook’ and reading a story from it to the kids. Again all of the kids living with their moms at the back rooms of the rockolas.

July 2021. Over 10 teens gathered, sitting in the floor of a rockola to play and hear about Jesus. On the sides you can see dozens of empty beers and other alcoholic drinks. All of the teens living in the back rooms from diferent rockolas.

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