To this point we had experienced quite a few “firsts” – dancing on bar stages, openly filming in clubs, empty Jeepneys on a Saturday evening so our group didn’t have to split up. Monday morning we woke up to find another first. One of the girls from the bar we filmed in had “outted” herself on Facebook. People from the organization have had countless incidents of contact with “bar girls” and were friends with many but all of them stay anonymous online. They lie about their life. But this one publicly admitted her job and mentioned the contact she had with Wipe Every Tear. But then. Then. She messaged Kenny and told him she wasn’t going to make it to the Getaway. She said her roommate was asleep and it was too late and she would miss the bus (that we had sent to pick up the girls that wanted to go). Kenny proceeded to converse with her online while texting Melissa to have the busses wait while she met with this girl. And Melissa experienced another first. In a city that, quite literally, never sleeps she could not find public transportation. At all. So she ran. She ran down the street, more than a mile, to meet with this girl who desperately wanted escape but was scared. She sprinted to show this girl that she was worth fighting for. That we loved her and would wait for her and would run to her side when needed.
In the meantime the team was in Manila eating breakfast. We were fully accustomed to operating on Filipino time which meant we might plan to leave at 8:00 but it could be 9:00 before that actually happened. My roomies and I went back upstairs to finish packing. I wandered down a little while later and everyone was still sitting around with their bags so I headed back to our room to chat. And then, in the middle of a sentence, it suddenly occurred to me…the building had gotten AWFULLY quiet. I casually mentioned that tiny little observation and then dashed downstairs with Erin right behind me to find the lobby empty of teammates & luggage. We stood there a moment staring at each other before she said “I think I hear voices outside” and dashed to the door and I said “I’m getting Ally!” and dashed upstairs.
Erin was, thankfully, able to catch the team as they were loading the last of the bags then ran back to get her stuff. We were already headed out the door, carrying her bags as well and we all ran (thankfully downhill. None of our bags were light) to the bus where Kenny laughingly announced our arrival via the PA system. I love my roomies dearly but sometimes getting involved in a good conversation can be dangerous.
Approximately 50 bar girls had initially said they wanted to go on the Getaway. We were doubtful anywhere close to that many would show up. I think I’ve said this in an earlier post but this trip? Was impossible. There was no reason at all that ANY of the girls we encountered should have trusted us. At all. Much less gotten on a bus with us. Free vacation? Stipend paid for work missed? Yeah right. But we knew for sure that on the other bus there were two girls that had already left with us. And there were the girls that currently lived in the safehouses. And we left it to God to handle the rest. (Like He hadn’t handled those…?)
Twenty-six girls left work and walked to the church to meet our bus. Twenty-six girls slept peacefully while we transported them away from their jobs and homes. Twenty-six girls, many who had been told we would kill them, told that we would enslave them further, told that they would lose their jobs, their friends, everything. One girl told us later “They told me you were going to kill me. But I was already dead inside so it didn’t matter.”
So we rode a bus for two hours and a ferry for another hour and landed on the beach in one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever seen. And that would be our home for five days.
*This was taken on the ferry as she watched our journey and arrival raptly. She has a bubbly personality, outgoing and loving, quick with a hug and a smile. She walked away from everything and is now in our safe house, attending school.