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?
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.
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.