Two summers ago I was sitting on the floor of the school’s library with all of the little girls at the Farm, the Franciscan Sisters, and a few missionaries. We were watching the Little Princess in Spanish. Most of us had never seen the classic movie before so it was an exciting night. With all of the little girls crisscrossed side by side wrapped up in someone's arms or playing with someone's hair, we all sat wide-eyed as the story unfolded before us. For those of you who haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing and watch it.
If you still haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for?! Go watch it now because I’m about to ruin it for you!
The movie is about a little girl whose mother passes away (typical, I know). Her father treats her like the most precious jewel he’s ever held and it is clear she knows her worth in his eyes. But then he gets sent off to war and has to leave her in the care of a boarding school whose head mistress is horrible. She has other little girls who have been left at the school and abandoned work as maids without education, barely enough food, and forces them to sleep in the cold attic in rags. Eventually the father of the little girl goes missing and the payments stop coming. She’s forced into the slavery of the boarding school but her imagination helps her through those hard times. In the end, her father is found but he has lost his memory. Just as the mean head mistress is about to send the little girl to prison, the girl sees her father and runs to him. He doesn’t know her though.
The girl was distraught, crying, begging, praying for her father to remember her.
It is such a sad scene to watch. The only thing that pulled my eyes off of the screen was the shouts and cries of the little ones around me. They were yelling at the father on screen, begging him to remember his daughter. We were all in tears as the girls kept telling the Sisters to turn the movie off because they couldn’t keep watching it. But then, suddenly, the father’s friend helps him remember and he saves his little girl. His little princess.
Okay, so I’ve completely butchered that story line. Trust me, you have to watch it to understand.
It broke my heart to watch those little girls become so attached to the character of the little princess, but it gave me and some friends an idea. We decided the girls needed a day to feel beautiful. A day just to simply feel accepted. Many of these young girls have been sexually abused at very young ages and all have experienced some form of neglect and emotional abuse. You can see how this affects society by looking at the women of Honduras. They are young abandoned mothers, they are beaten wives, they are innocent girls forced into prostitution. At some point you have to ask, how can it stop?
Young girls need to feel special. They need to have constant affirmation that they are precious and beautiful and worth something. In order to understand their worth in the eyes of God, we decided to have a Dia de las Princesas, or Day of the Princesses. My mom brought down the brand new movie Tangled and invitations decorated with a Disney princess and lots of sparkles were mailed out to all of the finca and the neighboring village girls. We had cake, an incredible movie (with the songs even dubbed in Spanish!), and each princess got a photo of them and their friends to keep.
These girls took the day seriously, too. As soon as we stepped outside after finishing the decorations, we saw a line of beautiful little girls in whatever the prettiest dress they could find waiting at the gate. It didn’t matter what they were wearing because they all felt beautiful. After the movie one of the missionaries, Nely, gave a beautiful talk on a girl’s worth and purpose in this world. I can’t remember all of what she said, but it meant something to these kids.
Two years later I find myself imagining an even better Dia de las Princesas, maybe even like a mini-retreat. I just want these girls to understand that they are so precious in the eyes of God. Just as the father of the little princess showed his daughter her true worth with his love, God wants the same for his little girls. Who am I kidding though? At barely 22 years of age I doubt I have all the answers and the best way to go about sharing this with them. I can offer them my experiences, but I fear they will have little value in our very different cultures.
I guess my goal would be that these girls would have a tiny seed planted in them and that when they need it most one day in the distant futures, they will drop to their knees and turn to the Father.
That they will allow Him to take away the pain, the loneliness, the hurt, and the lies they hear whispered in their ears.
I want them to find God in those dark places instead of turning to abusive men and addictions.
I want them to at least have the knowledge that they are not alone in this.
Anyways, I just thought I’d share some of my passing thoughts with you all as I continue preparing for this journey. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to send them my way. I’d love to hear them! E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org