The horrors in La Pampa, Peru must stop.
Recently it was my honor to facilitate an arts workshop, The Call of the Balladeers, in Medellin, Colombia, for 125 young Christian artists from 12 Latin countries. The purpose of the workshop was to equip and encourage aspiring Christian artists to use their art to speak prophetically to culture. During our time together these young artists shared their music, plays, paintings, dance and poetry.
It is imperative that the church challenge corruption and injustice in our societies. And it is time to awaken the church and society to the evils right in front of them. Christian artists can raise their voices to bring change. After all, the artists shape culture, and culture is upstream from the laws, institutions and structures of a nation.
For six years I have been engaging with a group of young Christians from a church in Lima, Peru. Recently they travelled to Madre de Dios, one of the poorest provinces in their nation. They went to minister to impoverished fellow citizens, especially girls and young women who are sexually abused and often murdered.
La Pampa’s horrors
The epicenter of this horror is La Pampa. Daniela Dolores is a young poet who traveled there as part of this ministry team. She describes La Pampa as a
… no man’s land where the State simply does not dare to enter. Many girls and women are taken to this place with deception, other times they are kidnapped, and then used as merchandise for prostitution. Most of them acquire sexually transmitted diseases, so they are killed by decapitation or dismemberment. Her remains are thrown under a bridge as if they were garbage. Those who are rescued are mostly rejected by their families for the life they had. All of them have to return to the prostitution business because they believe it is the only thing they can do.
Born out of her experiences ministering in La Pampa, interacting with the women and hearing their stories, Daniela wrote a poem to awaken any who would hear it to the plight of these girls and young women who live at the entrance to hell.
One woman’s experience
Read this English translation and weep with me:
I am harassed every day by a different beast. They tear me apart, devour a part of me and then abandon my foul meat.
They return one by one, and the nightmare repeats itself, day after day.
I never thought that my life would change so much; I once longed to leave the misery where I grew up, without contemplating that I would find a greater misery in this place.
I wake up thinking if it’s really worth living. My tears are screams drowned in despair. These fall, they do not stop sprouting, as I write this.
Yesterday, one of us tried to escape the beasts. She lost, I heard that she was dismembered. The truth is that no one will come to claim their remains, they will remain under that bridge as a sign of the power of the beasts.
I really don’t think anyone out there understands the pain so great that I feel, but I need to talk.
I need to shout this suffering, it consumes me.
Even though I want to end all this, there is something that still keeps me, I cling to this life, and it is because I have someone waiting for those dirty coins that the beasts give me.
I simply cannot escape this; At this point, I have lost all hope, will the day come when this nightmare ends?
Will the day come when my body rests from pain?
If someone reads this message, I beg you, help me!
What will you do about these horrors?
As I listened to Daniela read her poem, I was swept into the image of violence, hopelessness and despair. With her last line, I wept! At that moment my translator turned to me, “Look at my arm!” The power of Daniela’s words had made the hair stand up on his arm.
These horrors led me to write Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women to Build Healthy Cultures.
If you have been stirred by Daniela’s words, please find a way to speak on behalf of women who are abused and destroyed.
Please pray for us as we develop a Coram Deo online class on the dignity of women.
“If someone reads this message, I beg you, help me!”
- Darrow Miller