Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Five Faces of Jonti

Five faces of the trafficked girl Jonti are represented in this artwork. It is a story of life and death.

The lower left background face is obscured by the large foreground image of Jonti. The obscured face represents that portion of Jonti's life hidden from our view when she was a flower girl in Thailand and worked as a beer girl in a karaoke bar in Cambodia.

As a flower girl, she woke up at six in the morning and began selling flowers to tourists and men in nightclubs and bars. She worked all day and early into the morning of the next day, subsisting on one bowl of noodles a day. About three in the morning, she would then go to bed, only to arise again at six o'clock to start her workday over.

The Thai authorities arrested Jonti and put her in jail. She was nine years old. Upon her release, she was gang-raped at knifepoint by three teens.

Eventually, she returned to Cambodia and was sold by her mother to a karaoke bar. There she worked as a beer girl, serving drinks and servicing men.

Jonti's smiling face in the upper left corner of the art piece is from a photo taken of her after she arrived at Rapha House, where she experienced safety and her first glimmer of hope. But as your eye follows her image clockwise, her face deteriorates. Despite our best efforts, Jonti did not emerge from her woundedness and returned to the streets.

The foreground image is from a photo taken by the artist when he found her on the streets again. She was invited to enter our extension program. But again, she slipped away.

Her body eventually gave out. Her parents took her to a hospital in Vietnam. And her last words are seen faintly in the lower right-hand corner of the art piece—God help me.

Her mother tells the story of Jonti's death. It was early in the morning. Jonti's father was in the room with her. Jonti began speaking. Her father called to the mother to come. "Listen," he said as Jonti faintly cried, "God help me" and then died. She was seventeen years old.

Embedded in this artwork is a cross. It represents hope in this tragic story. One is reminded of the occasion when Jesus granted grace to the dying thief on the cross. He had done nothing to merit salvation but was welcomed into God's kingdom that very day simply by turning to Christ and asking for help.

Jonti now rests beyond the reach of any perpetrator.

See the original artwork at our gallery in Joplin, Missouri. Visit for times.

You may purchase Rapha House a 16" x 21" signed limited edition aluminum print, mounted for hanging for $200.