I know that the world can be a dark and lonely place sometimes. And that sometimes we face what seem like insurmountable odds and we feel like there is no hope and we don't know what to do or where to turn for help, love and support. Even if there are people in our lives that love us and want to support us, there always seems to be a feeling of isolation and separateness. A feeling that no one, no matter how close, truly understands.

My name is Jabali Smith, and this is the true story of a shocking childhood - with a surprisingly happy ending. My book is about a boy whose childhood is stolen from him, but finds his way through that same isolation and darkness. From a place of fear, shame and loneliness he learned not only how to survive but how to thrive through the Art of inner strength, Love, Compassion and Forgiveness. It’s a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit and to the immeasurable power of love, compassion, and forgiveness in the face of treachery and deceit.

I was 6 years old when my mother gave me to messianic doomsday sex cult. She betrayed and abandoned me, never to return. I was forced to survive as a child slave on the streets of a foreign country, isolated by language and culture for over 5 years.

The working title for my memoir is Slave: A Human trafficking Survivor Finds life. This is my story. But maybe this is your story too? Or the story of someone you know and love? Did you know  that between 4-5 children die every day from abuse and neglect? Or that a child abuse report is made every 10 seconds?

I believe it’s important for me to tell my experience because I know there are so many people who have suffered and who are still suffering from child abuse and molestation. The shame, hurt and pain that often fills the lives of abuse victims is actually Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD behaviors are usually self-destructive and destructive to others, and drug abuse, alcoholism and violence are common outcomes.

I believe it is my duty, and our duty as a society and for humanity as a whole, to break the chain of suffering, silence and shame. And not just child abuse, molestation and human trafficking specifically but all forms of abuse. I hope that by sharing my story I will be able to help other people who have suffered in silence, and give him and her a voice. A voice of confidence, a voice of joy, a voice of self-expression.

I know that a kind word, a loving gesture or a symbol of concern, given at the right time in a child's life, or that of an adult, can make a dramatic shift in how that young person sees the world. And that can and will, help change the course and the direction of their life for the better…. it happened to me. Part of how I found my way to a place of

peace was through music, dance and  Martial Arts , and believe that these body-centered approaches can help

children develop a sense of inner strength and break out of their prisons.

I wrote this memoir, and am beginning to tell my story, as the first step in my larger vision of opening a child wellness center. The center will offer Martial Arts, Music, Dance, Theatre and Yoga. Combined with a curriculum of Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Psychology/ and interpersonal self development for foster children and inner city youth. But open to all.

-Jabali Smith