My view of Romania is constantly changing. My view from my basement bedroom window, my view from my office desk and my morning bus ride view. But also, my view of other people and my view of the world. All constantly changing, all constantly growing, all more different than anything I have ever viewed before.
The view of an old communist block across the street from my office in downtown Bucharest can be distracting from my desk. Old men smoking a morning cigarette while watching the street below, women shaking out laundry over the balconies-- someone is always doing something, and someone is always smoking a cigarette.
I walked in the first morning after the office was fully set up and set my stuff down on the desk by the window, claiming it as my own. I sit at my desk for 8-10 hours a day most days. I didn’t want to seem dramatic, but I wanted a view. I like a brightly lit workspace, and occasional distractions are welcomed when I have been staring at a computer screen for a few hours.
There is a white board above my desk with the list of ongoing projects I am currently working on. It is a long list. There is so much to be done.
International Justice Mission (IJM) just started a field presence in Eastern Europe in June 2019. Research and hard work had been diligently being done by IJM staff for over 6 years to get us here.
I am a small part of a giant picture. To establish a field presence, there is a lot of information that must be found out, lots of government connections that must be made, lots of Non-Profit partnerships that must be formed. My boss is an expert at that. He is a charismatic American attorney, with a heart for justice, for his four daughters and wife, and for the Dallas Cowboys.
I live in the basement of their house in Bucharest, in a tiny room with a tiny window that I keep open for lack of air conditioning. The view from my tiny bedroom window is of the backyard wall, but I can't complain. You see-- it sounds dim, but the way the morning lights manages to make its way in, streaking across my room, mixed with the smell of fresh air and the sound of teenagers running around getting ready for school upstairs, makes it feel like home. To some it would seem crazy, but my view of a tiny basement room is the picture of comfort, and of rest after a long day.
As a field presence in Eastern Europe, we are currently focused on narrowing our scope of work. Narrowing our view, if you will. Human trafficking is a broad crime that includes sex trafficking, bonded labor trafficking, forced begging and even forced organ removal. We are trying to narrow our focus to find the area with the most need, the area where we could have the most potential impact. We are also working on hiring Romanian staff to help with the effort. Once we narrow our scope and have nationals on staff we will begin to take on casework and to conduct trainings for law enforcement, aftercare specialists and other key players in the fight to end human trafficking.
My specific job right now is researching anything and everything that my boss needs legal information on. I spend most of my days reading through UNICEF reports, UN Trafficking Protocols, EU Victim Protection Mandates and legal research papers written by Romanian human rights attorneys. Then I write about them in a concise way, so that my boss and coworkers can be better informed about Romanian and European legal standards. And with everything I do, and write, and research, my view is constantly changing.
Some days I go to meetings, in person, or virtually with people in other countries (like IJM Headquarters in D.C. or other European Organizations). Some days I run errands for the office, some days I run errands for research purposes, and some days, I mop the floors and clean the office toilets (because I am an intern, and because someone has to do it).
The way I perceive the things I look at is so different now than it was one year ago. Each time I look out the window my view changes. As I uncover more statistical truths about Romania, it changes. As I grow to understand the depths of the human trafficking issue in Europe, it changes. And as I daily grow in reliance on God for my strength, focus, energy and comfort, my view changes.
I like my view from Romania, but I can’t help but think of all the other views being experienced in this country right now. The view of the Roma child forced to clean and sell fruits all day in the hot summer sun outside of my morning metro stop. The view of the young girl who thinks she is in love, only to find out the man had intentions to profit off of selling her body. The view of the desperate mother who cannot feed her family without exploiting her own children.
It is hard somedays to sit in front of a computer when it feels like there is so much work to be done outside, but the people distracting me in the communist block outside my office window help me throughout the work day. They remind me of why I am here. I am here to help IJM serve real people. The sun light that streams in after midday landing on my arm, reminds me something too-- it reminds me that I am here to serve God. I am daily choosing to give thanks for my view, because I am hopeful that one day my view can help others change their view-- to find freedom from the bondage of human trafficking.
Days left in the field: 83