Beliefnet
Red Letters

By Melissa Banas

michaelangelo-feet.jpg









What do you see when you look at
this picture? 

Obviously there are four feet, two
from an adult and two precious little ones from a toddler.  I bet that you
would never see or assume the truth behind this image, this haunting portrait.
The two little feet that you just see were sold for $60 US Dollars to a
pimp.  

A three-year-old turned sex slave.  His name is Michael Angelo.

Navotos, where Michael lives, is a
community of 10,000 people who live on top
of tombs in a graveyard in the Philippines.  Michael
lives in the part of the community that is raised about twelve feet off Manila
Bay’s polluted waters.  All nine of his family members live in a two-story
makeshift squatter home.  Most of the bottom level is rotted out and can’t
be used.  You get up to the top floor by climbing a slippery ladder and
once you get up to the top, you realize that this family literally has
nothing.  Each child has one shirt.  Some don’t even have
pants.  The baby’s bottom is diaper-less and the severe rash has bubbled
his skin over to look like a thick crust.  Michael spends all day alone in
the house with the baby and his other two-year-old brother while his father and
mother go out to try to find work so that they can eat.  His older
siblings are left to govern themselves and find work. 

Navotos - Michael.jpg

When the pimp came to the door
with a picture in her hand, the family thought that their luck had
changed.  She promised them that by giving Michael to her they would
become rich.  She said, “At the age of 20 Michael will come back to
you with a million dollars and you will not have to struggle like this
anymore.”  She also promised that Michael would be taken care of and
treated like a king at his new home in Japan.  The exchange was made – a
child for $60.00 – a poor boy turned to “king” in a matter of
minutes.   

PCF has two schools., one in the
dump and the other in the graveyard.  One of the teachers found out about
Michael Angelo and notified the social work department at the school. 
Three of the social workers decided, despite how scared they were, that they
were going to do something about this tragedy.  They worked tirelessly to
find out all the details.  They discovered that the pimp worked for a
couple that live at and own a bar in Japan.  They also sell children
undercover.  The pimp became pregnant herself about four years ago and it
was decided by her boss that she would pimp out her own child when he was
around three-years-old.   The time had come for her to give up her
son but she could not bring herself to do it.  She took a picture of her
son around the Navotos village to find a child that looked like her son. 
When she found Michael Angelo, she found a way to save her own flesh and blood.

The social workers called the
mother into the school, sat her down and scared the heck out of her.  They
told her that the adoption was illegal and that she could be put in jail if she
didn’t get the child back.  The conversation took hours before tears
streamed down her eyes because she realized that her child would be used for
sexual pleasure by a man four times his size. They said that it took her about
another hour to find the courage to go to the pimp’s house to retrieve her son.

On June 15, 2008 at 12:00am, mere
hours before the child was scheduled to leave the country and fly to Japan,
Michael Angelo was back in [his mother’s] arms. I asked the social worker [if
she thought] she will sell him again.  She shrugged her shoulders and
said, “We will notify the police to arrest her is she does.  She is
still thinking about that million dollars.” 

I had the pleasure of
photographing Michael Angelo.  He didn’t smile too much.  Perhaps the
shock of a white woman with a huge camera and lens planted right on him was a
little shocking.  His face was severely bruised because he had fallen
through one of the cracks in the floor. The dark color around his lips is not
chocolate; it is dried blood.  I don’t know how [he] survived the fall a twelve-foot
fall.  It’s as if the Lord’s hand is on this child.  When I left the
rickety house I turned back and saw his little head peaking out of a
makeshift window.  Through his swollen check and black eye he
surprised me with a smile that radiated joy into my entire body. In the frozenness
of this scared child I saw a glimmer of hope.  He waved his tiny little
hand frantically from side to side in such excitement as he sent me off in a
heart-felt joyful goodbye. 

window - michael.jpg

I stopped by the house one more
time before leaving to see if I could find the mother and tell her that there
was no million dollars, but we couldn’t find her anywhere. Michael was alone in
the house with his two other siblings. This time, I captured his little head
peaking out for you.  So you will remember him.  Remember his bruises
and his face.  Remember that he was sold and then saved. Remember him,
pray for him, and give your money to send missionaries to do the work of
getting children like him out of danger and back in the Father’s arms!

Want to make a HUGE difference and go on a trip that helps children caught in the sex trade? Then Please click here to find out how you can go. You’re life will never be the same.

 

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus