Recently, I had the opportunity to visit an exhibit at a local church. I was guided through the life of a child living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Step into Africa, a World Vision Experience: AIDS. Olivia, whose life I followed, is real; her name has been changed. Having already lost her parents and a sibling to the AIDS epidemic, Olivia experienced more heartache when a man invaded her home and raped her. She became pregnant and had a son. Soon after, Olivia was raped a second time by the same man and gave birth to a second child—a girl. This time, she went to a clinic and found that she and her daughter were HIV positive; her son was not. Olivia and her daughter may die, and her son will be left to fend for himself.
As I walked through the burlap curtains dividing segments of Olivia's life, I saw what may have been her house. I looked at nameless photos and read staggering statistics on the burlap walls, and I listened to Olivia's story on an iPod, hearing her cries for help as she was raped. I thought, How does something like this happen? This is a child! If this were to happen in our country, it would be headline news. In places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Olivia lives, it happens often. There is no reporter, no camera crew in a Winnebago on the front lawn, no detective on the case.
At the end of the recording, I helplessly turned in my iPod. There should be something more to be done. It can't just "be over." But it is. I reached into my purse to get my car keys and noticed a note card with a butterfly on it. I'd put it there as a reminder of The Butterfly Effect, and that there are always consequences to my actions. Some consequences aren't so bad, but more often than not, they affect us in ways we can't imagine.1