MARANAHAO, Brazil – Gabriela* (name changed to protect identity) was still a little girl when she ran away from home, escaping one form of abuse only to be caught up in another.
Struggling to survive on her own on the streets of Brazil, she accepted a job offer to work in the cocoa fields when she was just 12 years old—a job she hoped would provide her with food for her empty stomach and a safe place to sleep at night.
“I didn’t realize that it was another form of slavery, until I was trapped in it,” Gabriela said.
For three years, Gabriela worked long hours in the fields, often from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., getting only a short break for lunch and earning just a few dollars a day.
Eventually Gabriela was brought to a safe shelter supported by Operation Blessing. There she has been able to recover from years of abuse and start thinking of her future. Today, she is working to finish her education—with hopes of one day helping others still trapped in the bondage of slavery.
“God has restored what was stolen from me,” she said. “Now, I want to give my life for those that are trapped in slavery around Brazil.”