Myat Noe was bursting with happiness the day she began her internship at one of the most prestigious beauty salons in town. Full of hope, she confidently walked to her first day of work. The morning was full of possibility.
But there was a time when she would have never imagined this day.
The day Myat Noe was tricked, she was wearing her school uniform like any normal Myanmar girl. She keenly felt how lucky she was that her single mother worked so hard to allow her to attend school. She was determined to study hard and make something of her life. Her dedicated mother was out when she returned from school. A neighbor walked up to her home, accusing Myat Noe of stealing. She demanded that the young girl gets into her car. Myat Noe wanted to refuse but was afraid to disobey an elder. The further they drove, the more worried she became.
Suddenly the car stopped. The neighbor got out, took money from a man, and left Myat Noe standing on the side of the road. She started to cry as the man informed her that he had bought her to work in his brothel. She yelled “NO” and tried to explain that she was not that kind of girl. She did not want to be with boys for sex… she wanted to go back to school and be at home with her mother. When she tried to run away, he caught her easily. As he beat her, he told Myat Noe that he would kill her and her family if she didn’t do what he said.
He forced her to work in his brothel where she endured constant abuse. No one knew where she was… there was no one to hear her cries for help. She wished she were dead.
One day, Myat Noe found some medication and took it all in hopes of ending her life. When she awoke, she learned that she had been in a coma for days. She could not walk, her brain felt strange, and her body wasn’t working as expected. Through it all, the brothel still sent customers to her. During one visit, she broke down and turned away from the customer to cry. Pitying her, he called her mother and told her where Myat Noe was.
Her mother immediately called the authorities, and the anti-trafficking police rescued Myat Noe. Although she was free, she didn’t feel it yet.
“I felt so broken and damaged when I arrived at Eden. They welcomed me and seemed to see past the shame I felt. They helped me cope during those days.”
As Myat Noe worked through her trauma in counseling, we invited her to begin dreaming again. We encouraged her to understand and believe that her past did not have to define her future. We walked with Myat Noe through the process of understanding her pain and of healing. Myat Noe became more hopeful each passing day in the loving environment at Eden. She committed to dreaming again, even though her body and mind didn’t feel normal anymore. One day in art therapy class, we helped her paint her dream on a small canvas. She painted a hair salon.
Even as she hung her canvas on the Dream Wall, she could not have imagined that just eight months later, it would come true. The Hidden Treasures Collection was inspired by women like Myat Noe who come to Eden broken and traumatized. Even though her pain seemed so overwhelming, trauma counseling helped her move past it. She was able to embrace a new beginning. She became strong.
When someone likes her work, Myat Noe smiles from behind the salon chair. She’s immensely proud of her skills and of helping to bring more beauty into the world. Like Myat Noe, the women at Eden learn that the pain of their past cannot hold them back. Slowly, their skills and talents begin to emerge and the dreams they have treasured up in their hearts become reality.