The following is a guest post from student-activist Ruth Varghese from the University of Texas at Dallas Free Project/IJM chapter.
I’m not sure why, but it reminded me of a Spanish cathedral, or some kind of nunnery. It makes sense because “safe shelter,” makes me imagine the woman from The Hunchback of Notre Dame yelling “sanctuary” as she tried to get in the church or something from The Sound of Music, where the Trapp family hid from the German soldiers. That’s exactly what Mosaic House is, a place of safety and protection.
Mosaic House is a shelter for women and children, specifically immigrants, who have suffered from domestic violence or human trafficking. They provide services to help the women and children get back on their feet and back at their lives. It’s a beautiful place, surrounded by trees with a small playground in the backyard for the kids to play in. It’s ironic that such a place that looks so pretty on the outside could hold so much hurt and fear on the inside.
My visit to Mosaic House was spent coloring with the kids. One of the boys was a little older. I was sure that he would think coloring paper plate pumpkins would be lame, but it seriously surprised me when he got the most into it. Adam* and one of the other volunteers in our group got into a paper plate pumpkin war that exceeded my imagination. They were each creating their own armies and designing pumpkins to fight each other. It ended with Adam creating something along the lines of “ghost shields” that were impenetrable-the physical appearance of the ghost shield was nothing more than a single red circle surrounding the drawing on the plate. Since you can’t beat a ghost shield, Adam won the war.
I saw some of the moms with their kids in the hallway and everything looked fine. Nothing during my entire visit to Mosaic House seemed out of the ordinary. The kids were happy, the moms were smiling. Had I not remembered we were at a safe shelter, I would’ve thought I was volunteering at a day care or babysitting. I won’t ever know what those particular women and children have gone through, but there are stories everywhere of people who have experienced what might be similar. I’ve noticed that I don’t question anything that looks normal. It’s easy to think of victims as characters on Law and Order or headlines in the news. Victims are so much more diverse than that. Mosaic House shelters women who were subject to domestic violence and trafficking, and those women look just like all of us. There’s nothing physically different about them. Victims come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and races. They could be all around us, and we just never notice.
It may be a stretch to say we will ever completely eliminate human trafficking and domestic violence, but we can take care of those who were subject to trafficking and violence. That is what Mosaic House is doing. I think it is important to remember though, that in the end, these are actual human beings whose lives we can change for the better and not just statistics on a screen.
*Name has been changed
**All Mosaic House information comes from www.mosaicservices.org