A stolen childhood
Hope* is an orphan who grew up with her stepfather after losing her biological parents at just three years old. Her new stepmother forced her to work like a maid and punished her by making her sleep on an empty stomach, or spend hours digging in the coffee garden making it difficult for her to spend time with her friends. Despite all this, Hope was devoted to attending school and dreamed of being a teacher.
Locked up with no dinner
One day she had gone to play with her friend when food at home was eaten by their pet dog, Pipi. When Hope got back home, she was beaten and her stepmother asked her to prepare dinner. She remembers that when the food was ready she was locked in a house and then later told to come and pick the plates off the dining table and clean them.
While Hope was being oppressed by her stepmother, her stepfather worked away from home during the week and at the weekend was out getting drunk with his friends so he wasn’t much support. When Hope turned 11 he wanted to force her to get married to an old man for money. She felt forced to run away.
On the way to her grandmother’s house far away, she decided to shelter on the veranda of a shop as it was getting dark. She met two girls who asked her to come and work with them sorting cereals out at a grocery store for money. So she ended up joining the streets instead, and working each day for survival. It was a hard life that was full of scary situations and traumas. Later these girls also started bullying her and made it difficult for her to survive on the street by trying to take her share of the money.
Hope at last
Hope was really happy when she met a social worker from S.A.L.V.E. International who was on her rounds reaching out to street connected children. She welcomed Hope to the Drop in Centre of S.A.L.V.E. International for counselling.
Through S.A.L.V.E.’s support she was able to be resettled home to live with her grandmother. As the saying goes experience is the best teacher. Hope is now an activist and thanks to the care given to her by S.A.L.V.E. she now advises children not to think of street life as a solution. Hope is very grateful to S.A.L.V.E. and hopes to be a teacher so she can reach out to many more children.
*Names have been changed in line with our child protection policy