A Fighter With A Future

Belwop Girls

Kenyan Teen Overcomes Extreme Circumstances to Graduate from Secondary School

Hillary WolfeBy Hilary Wolfe, ER Contributing Writer

 

Salome faced long odds as she entered adolescence. Growing up in poverty, losing a mother and living with an alcoholic father will do that to a person. But a fighting spirit, big dreams and a loving support network helped this determined Kenyan blossom into a young woman with a bright future. 

IMG_4800Salome was just coming into her “tween” years when her mother passed away. She had to drop out of school so she could work to provide food for her three younger sisters. She became the family’s provider and was often forced to fight off her alcoholic father from stealing what little they had. On numerous occasions, she found herself running to the local hospital, located several kilometers away, with an ailing sister in her arms.

Salome and her sisters were brought home to Belwop Rescue Centre (http://www.thebelwopproject.com) in Nyeri, Kenya in 2008. This ER partner cares for orphaned, abused and otherwise vulnerable children, and unlike some children’s homes, doesn’t set a cutoff age at which children can no longer live there. The house manager, Veronica, nurtures the children as if they were her own and works tirelessly to ensure their readiness when they do leave.

With counseling and support from the Belwop staff, Salome was able to simply be a child again. For the first time in a long while, she and her sisters had someone else providing for them, both physically and emotionally. She continued to keep a watchful eye on her sisters, but she now had peace in knowing they were all together, cared for and deeply loved.

In addition to a balanced diet and secure home environment, Salome received a private-school education through Belwop. Now 18, she’s a recent graduate of secondary school and is awaiting her exam results, with an eye toward further education.

BelwopThanks to Belwop, Salome went from a life of instability and despair to one of immeasurable hope and promise. She recently said she didn’t imagine making it this far, but she’s also proud to have proved wrong those who told her she would never graduate. Clearly she’s a fighter, and now she’s an empowered young woman – one who knows there is no dream or task too big for her to achieve.

 

Hillary Wolfe is 23 years old and currently resides in Indiana. Since returning to the U.S. after living and serving at Belwop for a year, she balances being a full-time personal assistant with advocating for Belwop and managing its fundraising and sponsorships.

Shristi’s Story: Orphaned, Trafficked, Rescued

Rescued From Human Trafficking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was very happy because I thought I had finally found someone who loved me enough to take care of me.

My name is Shristi*. I was three years old when my parents died. My uncle and his wife raised me alongside their three kids. They could not afford to send me to school. My aunt wasn’t fond of me and put her own kids first.

At age 16, my uncle and my aunt informed me I would marry a man 10 years older than me. I could say little in protest to their decision. I had no voice.

The first few months of my married life were great. Although my husband would be gone for long periods, he would always return with a nice paycheck to run our household.

One day, I had some stomach problems. My husband said he would take me to India for treatment. I was very happy because I thought I had finally found someone who loved me enough to take care of me.

The next day we headed to India. We were at one of the border crossings when some young ladies stopped us for questioning. My husband’s behavior started changing.

During the questioning I learned the ladies were KI Nepal staff doing surveillance against human trafficking. They told me my husband had already taken another women to India, claiming her to be his wife.

I was devastated. Suddenly, his travel and money made sense.

I had nowhere to go. The KI Nepal staff told me they provide safe homes and skills development trainings to girls like me. I was so happy to go.

I stayed for six months and received sewing training and other life skills. KI Nepal helped me to set up a business that included a sewing machine and some seed to start my own tailoring shop.

Today, I’m living a dignified and self-sustaining life back in my own community in western Nepal.

 *Name changed to provide confidentiality