These photos show exactly what 8th grade kids SHOULD be doing - being kids and having fun. They should have the opportunity to order a McDonald's kids meal and then ride the elevator all day if they want to (five times, to be exact - look at their faces!!) while on a field trip to the mall in the big city.
This was another rough week. As I mentioned a month or so ago, this job is difficult for me. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but the more comfortable I get in my role here, the closer I get to the kids... the harder my work becomes.
Remember last year when I wrote about how one of my girls was propositioned while in school by a man looking to give her parents money so he could marry her? She spent the rest of her 7th grade year under lock and key. Isabella came back to school this year and went on to 8th grade with her classmates. I got a huge hug from her on the first day of school, but she was different - withdrawn... quiet... not the bubbly girl who I met on my very first day in Samokov over two years ago.
Last Tuesday I got to the school and Katya told me that Isabella was married. Just like that. 14 years old. A CHILD. Practically a baby... Apparently the man was very wealthy and her parents got an offer they couldn't refuse.
It's easy to sit where I am and judge the actions of others in a situation like this. Did they honestly think that this is a better life for her? Do they honestly think that some grown man out there want's a child bride for nobel purposes? It makes me sick.
Don't get me wrong - its common for Roma girls to get married relatively young, but this is NOT the norm. However, it does happen. Twice now, for me. Both young girls vibrant and smart and beautiful... with their entire lives ahead of them. I've spent all week simultaneously alternating between tears and the sheer desire to punch someone's lights out.
So again, it was a rough week. I lost one of my favorite students, and I will probably never see her again. It breaks my heart, and I have been praying constantly that God puts his protective hand over her...