Overcoming Shame: Mai Ling's Story

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Mai Ling was a normal teenage girl from China. While she had big dreams for her life, she lived every day covered in shame. Shame because she was a girl. Shame because she was the youngest child in her family. Shame because she believed she was not good enough. Shame because she thought she would never accomplish anything.

But in the midst of it all, she still longed for the day she could be an adult, live on her own and have an amazing job. So the day she was told about a job opportunity in the beautiful country of Greece, she thought all of her dreams were coming true. She packed up all of her things in China and moved her life to the other side of the world in the hopes that her dreams would finally begin.

Mai Ling found out too late that what she thought was a great opportunity, was actually a trick and shortly after arriving, Mai Ling was forced into the sex trade and controlled by a Mediterranean human trafficking ring.

She was enslaved, forced to service clients regularly, beaten and on one occasion even stabbed by her trafficker. She tried to escape several times unsuccessfully, until one day, she found a door unlocked.

Seizing the opportunity to get out of her horrific circumstances, she ran out the door and found a police officer. She was unsure if she could trust him because she had been abused by police in the past, but it was a risk she was willing to take.

Thankfully, he took her to an immediate care shelter in Athens. After spending a short amount of time with her, the shelter knew she would need extensive care and they referred to her A21 in Thessaloniki.

During her time with A21, the team worked very hard to build up her confidence and remind her that she was valuable and worthy. She resisted, but eventually, she began believing the message that she could do anything she set her mind to. Mai began to take both Greek and English lessons, picking up both languages very quickly and gaining more confidence in herself with each step.

Mai then successfully moved into A21's transitional program where she stayed in an apartment and found a job in customer service that she discovered she was really good at! Eventually, Mai was ready to move back to her own country. A21 was able to connect her with a local organization that would help her start her new life there. She is now living fully into her new life of freedom.

A21 is a nonprofit organization fueled by radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. They work in 11 countries around the world, 7 of them focusing on fierce intervention and six of them providing restorative aftercare. We are proud to partner with A21 and support their life-saving work.