Chapter I, Devil’s Playground, Post 4, Mariana’s Story

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Normal is in the eye of the beholder.  For Mariana, who has grown up in a neighborhood notorious for drug trafficking and violence; police raids, gang shootings, and prostitution are part of the “normal” landscape.  Living in a two-room structure with her mother, two adult sisters and nine other children, Mariana has been a caregiver from a very young age.  There were never adult men in the home for very long.  Her own father has been in prison much of her life, along with an older brother.  Another brother began working for the local drug boss when he was just twelve years old.  He started as a courier and moved his way up to enforcer before he was picked up in a police raid at the age of 14 and sent to a juvenile detention center.

Mariana helped make money for the family by selling pastries and occasionally carrying an unmarked package from here to there for the local traffickers.  No questions asked. In a neighborhood where 70% of the population is involved in the drug trade to some extent, this was all “normal.” Mariana struggled in school with her grades and with discipline.  She was tough and angry.  She had to be to get along in her world.  Mariana’s life was leading down the same path as her older sisters who had become single mothers in their teens. She had never been someone’s “princess.” A loving father, a godly friend, or a safe place to just be a child were all foreign concepts until the day a concerned city health worker took an interest and sought out help…

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