Fog in Forecast

culture and society

I’m attempting to get back into the swing of things. The idea that I’m struggling to find normalcy after my SE Asia trip feels incredibly petty to me. I didn’t fully take into account the emotional fallout or the mental processing or the jet lag (dumb, right?) I’d be facing after landing. Everything feels inordinately difficult. Laundry needs to be folded and put away? Sure, right after I stare at the wall for a solid fifteen minutes.

And then I feel dumb, dumb, so dumb, because I saw a tiny little glimpse of what these investigators see every day. And I saw a tiny glimpse of what women and children experience every day. But I’m back home sipping a Diet Coke and eating a frozen Snickers bar and all of my children are fed and happy and I get to live in the same house as them and support them without having to sleep with strangers, so why exactly am I feeling anything but complete gratitude and elation?

Fog in Forecast

Maybe because it all feels unfair and maybe because I feel guilty and maybe because I miss them. I miss them. I wish I was with them. I wish I could provide some sort of respite for what they experience nightly. I wish I could pay for a few sex workers to hang out and go shopping and watch a movie and visit their kids for a few days, whatever tiny fix that might provide. I can’t. But I can write about them and hope I do their stories justice.

I had received some criticism for leaving my children to go to SE Asia. That felt a little itchy and a touch misogynistic considering 1) the girls were home with their loving dad and 2) I’ve never been on a business trip with men where someone has asked them with tear-filled eyes, “How could you leave your children?” Eyebrow raises and head shakes aside, I missed them. Of course I missed them. Heather and I sat in a terminal, waiting for our next plane, and I asked her, “How did you explain this trip to your kids?” She said she had told her older daughter “Some people aren’t free.”

I was silent for a moment while I thought about that. How painfully true. We read about slavery in history books and other untold evils of generations past, and here we are in 2014 and slavery is still real. My girls are younger than Heather’s Leta, so I had simply sat with them and said, “Mommy’s going to go to SE Asia and then hopefully through my writing I’ll be able to help some kids that need help.” It was enough for them. When Remmy tells me she’s glad I want to help people, it does something inside me. I don’t know why, but it feels incredible to know that my five year old is proud of me. And I hope that, despite my failings in so many areas that she will surely see as she gets older, she’ll feel the same way and will be compelled to fight for what matters when she’s a grown-up.

Last night I had this weird dream that I was leaving to go back to SE Asia. I had just packed a bag, grabbed my passport, and opened the front door as casually as I would to run to Target for shampoo. In my dream I was really confused and ended up staying, and then I woke up swearing off frosting out of the can after 8pm. I’m not an ex-military investigator with the skills to do what they do. I don’t have the training to sit in an aftercare facility and do play therapy with abused children. I sit in front of a computer and write and scroll through Twitter, but I can use what small capabilities I have to make a difference, be it ever so tiny. Together, we can fund a night of investigating ($35). We can fund a raid ($1,500). We can raise awareness.

And as I look at my children who are completely content with the explanation “Mommy’s leaving to help some people,” – a small sacrifice when I know what’s really at stake here – I like to think we’re raising up a generation of people who will do the same.

I’m excited to share that 20 of you have committed to supporting the Delta Team monthly. I’m inviting 30 more of you sign up and join the team. You’ll receive regular updates from me, Heather, Jamie, Kristen, and the fantastic team of investigators via a Facebook group.

20 out of 50


Additionally, if you’re interested in doing a one-time donation, I’d love to raise $2400 for a couple of computers for the Exodus Road. I was surprised at how much computer work is involved. They spend long hours going through surveillance footage, compiling evidence, writing reports, and then translating it to the local language. No minimum or maximum to donating.

To support the Delta Team monthly, you can click here, select search + rescue, select Delta Team, and click Roo Ciambriello in the drop down box. To make a one time donation, do the exact same thing, but just select “one time” in the donation frequency box. To do all of that via Paypal, you can click here to join the Delta Team, or click here for a one time donation. I’m updating the main post here with all of this info if you’d like to share any of the SE Asia posts with your friends (like Bright Lights and Brothels, for example).

As for me, I’ll continue to get back into the swing of things (on this site and in real life) and slow down the SE Asia posts to weekly or bi-monthly moving forward. More stories to tell; I hope you’ll stay tuned. Thank you for taking this journey with me, for sharing, for giving, and for being supportive in so many ways. I owe you all pizza.

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  • Reply Caitlin @ {walker whimsy} June 30, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    In the end, we won’t have to have to answer for the critics, the naysayers, the Twitter trolls or the unbelievers. We’ll going to have to answer for _ourselves_. I love how you convey that.

    My only goals in life are to be able to say, “Yeah. I kicked some serious A$$ at this life stuff!” right before I die and eat copious amounts of really good pizza until that happens. ;)

    Bravo, Roo!

  • Reply Haley June 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I love to witness your beautiful heart through your words. Keep doing what youu’re doing, Roo!

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Haley. You are so kind and that means a lot to me. :)

  • Reply Sandy The Fearless Scribe June 30, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    What you witnessed was terrible and cannot be easily cast aside once you returned home so give yourself time to process and share your stories one at a time. Also, I don’t think it matters how you give of yourself to help others. Whether you choose to donate money, time, or spreading awareness; it all counts toward the greater good.

    “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
    ― Mother Teresa

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      I love that quote. Thanks for the reminder, Sandy. :)

  • Reply Julie P. June 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you are struggling with some compassion fatigue or vicarious trauma after all you experienced first hand. This link does a good job explaining what happens and why: http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/learn/vicarious-trauma. It takes some time to recalibrate– allow yourself to grieve, which might sound strange, but it’s important. Let your family protect you and do all the things you would do after a loss that keep you safe. Very deeply felt empathy and compassion can leave you altered until you find a new way to integrate these new realities physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Debrief with someone who understands compassion fatigue well and with your travel companions who were there with you and have a context for your experience that others don’t. It’ll take a little time but your reaction is normal and so are you. You are reacting normally to things that hurt your soul.

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Very interesting. Thank you for the link and your insight, Julie.

      The four of us have been talking daily and it’s been super helpful. Taking other steps as well. Thanks again. :)

  • Reply Rachel June 30, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    It’s sad to hear about the criticism you’ve had for leaving your children to go to South East Asia. Unfortunately many people, and I by no means exclude myself, consider success in life to be protecting the security of your own circumstances. It’s an attitude that unwittingly supports injustice under a guise of preserving peace and familiarity. Justice necessarily shakes people out of what is “comfortable”, otherwise no change would happen. Martin Luther King Jnr said:

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Wow, that quote hits hard. Thanks for sharing it with me, Rachel. Important stuff.

  • Reply Abby June 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Thank you Roo. I don’t have much else to say besides thank you – for leaving home, for going, seeing, writing, raising awareness, advocating, struggling with the many disparities… I’m thankful to now be more aware of the problem and to be able to come alongside (in a small way) those who are fighting it.

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Abby. I so appreciate it. xoxo

  • Reply Andrea June 30, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    My husband and I work in Pakistan and he suffers from vicarious trauma from what we see. I’d second what the person above said about looking it up, it’s worthwhile processing it properly if it is.

    Thanks for writing this from your heart.

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks, Andrea. I’m going through steps to properly process and I found it interesting that “vicarious trauma” was brought up again. I had initially brushed it off, but it’s worth the read. Thank you for sharing. I hope you and your husband are doing okay!

  • Reply Alison July 1, 2014 at 3:10 am

    You’re doing amazing things, Roo.
    I donated!

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you so much, Alison!!

  • Reply Gretchen July 1, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I agree with all that has already been said today. I think you do need to take some time for yourself – us as readers need time to porcess this too and we ONLY read about it – you were actually there and experiencing it. Thank you for sharing May’s story and I look forward to whatever you share with us, whether its the same things you’ve always shared, what you’re doing now, “Mean Girl” posts, or something entirely new. I like reading the words that you write and will continue with you on this journey we are all on together every time you post! Thanks for all that you do!

    • Reply Roo July 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks for enjoying with the wide variety of topics here, Gretchen! So grateful for you and every reader who puts up with me.

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