R’s story reveals itself in broken strands.

She is fourteen when she travels to America from Liberia.


She comes for education, for the chance to work, to help support her parents and family.

She is not afraid of the airplane.

But she won’t get on the escalator, even when a friendly stranger offers to hold her hand. She finds an elevator instead.

A man at home in Liberia arranged for her flight. He told her there was work for her in the United States. He told her not to tell anyone because there was only enough room on the plane for her.

She is fourteen.

Her family lives near the mountains, in the country.

She wants to help. She wants to work and share the money with her family.

It’s winter when R arrives. She has never walked on snow or ice. It’s so strange under her feet, she drops to her knees and crawls up the steps across her first American threshold. Everyone laughs. She laughs, remembering.

She leaves the first house to go to her job in a man’s house. She will clean and cook for him. He announces she will marry him. Being a “wife” is the work the man in Liberia sent her to do.

She doesn’t want to be

She is fourteen.

She wedges things into the gap around the door to keep the man out of the closet where she sleeps. He bangs on the door and shouts. He frightens her.

She runs away.

There is a lady who has been kind to her, the lady smiles and invites her to stay.

While she is in the shower, her face turned toward the water, a hand touches her shoulder. Another man has found her. Naked in the shower.

She screams.

The man is kind. He explains that he has given the lady money to have sex with her, with any of the girls who live in the house.

She is afraid. She begs. She cries.

He tells her to leave.

Run away.

She speaks no English. She has no family. No friend to call upon.

She is fourteen.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Rosemary Dixon says:

    This is amazing Julie. These stories need to be gathered together in a book. I’m sorry you are ill. I hope you feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Monalisa says:

    Very powerful piece. These tragedies occur more often then we like to think they do. To endure and survive such atrocities takes an incredible amount of courage and resilience … heart and my hugs are with you Rebecca.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maryanna Milton says:

    So very powerful. We must share stories like this and learn more about our world and the responsibilities we have to one another. We can make our world a better place. PRC has started that work. So have you, Julie and Rebecca!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lucinda says:

    Wow- You took my breath away.
    Thank you for writing& sharing this powerful piece, Julie& Rebecca.


  5. alisa says:

    wow. such steady strength coming through. really beautifully told.


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