An Everlasting Smile

I didn’t choose to live on the streets

My name is Innocent*. This is the story of how S.A.L.V.E International came into my life that was filled with fear and unhappiness day and night. However, before I start, I would like you to know that for many of the young girls who live in the streets it is not a matter of choice but an added responsibility that seems to weigh them down.

Looking for food

As a young girl, I have faced challenges that led me on the street, for example, from family, friends, relatives and other social relations. They seem not to care about how we live, eat, sleep and even dress. I was so lonely at that moment. Everything seemed to be dark in my life. Living was very hard because of not knowing the love of my father nor from any relative from his side. This really affected me so much in my daily work and activities. Extreme poverty and lack of food at home made me look for food for my family’s survival on the streets and they all started depending on me.

Mum’s sick

At the same time, my mother was sick suffering from TB and HIV and that made me fear what would become of me at a tender age if she happened to leave me alone in this cold world.  I started working tirelessly day and night selling items like scrap metals, pancakes and sim sim cakes at the market and sometimes when I failed to get money to buy food for my mother and siblings at home, in desperation, I resorted to stealing food from the market place.

My mother’s condition worsened and I was scared to go home thinking of what would happen and how I would live with it. Fear made me distance myself from the family I knew and I started living on the streets.

Finding salvation

On the street I came in contact with some other young girls who advised me to follow them to different places for their daily activities – some good and others bad. For now, I will tell you one of the good ones like attending a Girls Drop in Centre which involved counselling sessions, good advice and great healing and forgiveness.

Here also I met S.A.L.V.E staff who helped me reunite with my family especially my father whom I was dying to meet because he was still alive and to know why he had to leave me, mother and my other siblings to suffer alone at the moment. With their help, we refound our family bond of love.

The everlasting smile

S.A.L.V.E. gave me the chance to start over again by giving me a home and the family I always wanted to have. I am now home happy with my father and stepmother. Although I lost my loving mother to her illness and this hurts too much. I can say life is better and I smile every day when I hear about S.A.L.V.E. and the joy it brings in to the lives of many other young girls who are facing my situation. I wish S.A.L.V.E. and the staffs and donors an everlasting smile.

*Names have been changed in line with our child protection policy

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