There is always hope.
Clair, Freely in Hope scholar, speaking to schoolgirls who have been rescued from female genital mutilation.
I recently came back to California after spending 4 months with our Freely in Hope community in Kenya. The country has been in constant tension rampant with terrorist attacks, bus bombings, random shoot-outs, lootings and story after story of sexual violence. Yet despite residing in places of darkness, Freely in Hope has been a transformative light of hope.
I had the privilege of speaking together with Clair at numerous events at partnering organizations, churches and schools. Clair has experienced unspeakable forms of violence yet she continues to rise above—caring for her ailing mother and two nieces orphaned by AIDS. Freely in Hope has been journeying with her since her last year of high school when she was a shy and quiet student. Now, she is a radiant light in her community studying at Nairobi’s top university for mass communications. In her first semester, she was at the top of her class!
Her dream is to be a media producer to gather the top stories exposing the prevalence of sexual violence in the slums. She hopes that through her work, she will be able to be a woman who will transform others and end the cycle of sexual violence.
She is a powerful voice of hope.
Together, we spoke with children who are survivors of rape, mothers who were once victims of domestic violence, and women caught in the cycle of prostitution. We spoke with young school girls, ages 7-14, who have been rescued from female genital mutilation. Many of which have a history of sexual violence—they shared with us how they have been raped by uncles, sold into marriage by fathers and forced to endure the pain of female genital mutilation from community members.
There, I saw Clair come alive as she shared her story as a survivor of rape, gang rape, forced prostitution and gross injustice—but as Freely in Hope provided opportunities for her to pursue her educational dreams, she began to find hope again.
Every school girl present was able to identify with her story. Some were moved to tears but they all felt a sense of hope—that they too are able to achieve their dreams despite the violence they have experienced.
One 8 year-old girl told me,
“When Clair shared her story, it made me feel better that I am not alone. Like her, I can move on and do great things. There is always hope.”
As I would watch Clair speak, I also became overwhelmed with hope—hope for her, for the girls present, and for our communities. The transformative power of education is raising up leaders in this fight against sexual violence.
This year has been filled with so much hope and we look forward to the opportunities that the new year will bring! In addition to continuing to provide holistic educational opportunities, health care, counseling and support for survivors of sexual violence, we have plans of doing so much more. We’re aiming to double intake for scholarships, launch our leadership programs and expand our advocacy platforms for 2015—but we need your help in raising $30,000 by the end of 2014!
In places of relentless violence, Jesus, our giver of hope, births a new order where all of our wounds will heal and the pain will be no more. In this season, let us remember that there is always Hope.
We are immensely grateful for you,
Partner with us in ending the cycle of sexual violence and:
• Become a monthly partner to help sustain our work