Overwhelmed by her domestic chores and responsibilities which has become too much for her to endure, a young lady, Joliatta who is only 22 yeas of age decided to forcefully share her marital duty to her younger sister, Amina, 10 years old with her husband. Amina was living with her sister Joliatta in the town as there was no school in her father’s village. Amina is terrified, and the encounter with this older man left her wounded, in blood and irreparable damage to her body and her mind. Amina had dreams to finish her education and become a doctor. Now all her dreams are shattered and her hope gone. Who would hear her tears? who would defend her rights? who would not shame her if she was to share the story and the victimization she is suffering?
Her teachers noticed Amina attends school less and less. When she is in school, she cries and put her head down. The teacher is unable to put is hand on the cause of Amina’s despair; she could only silently cry for help and for the strength to endure. But hope was not too far away. That is, because Mama Niala had come by the school, tipped by someone. Mama Niala is our resident advocate for young girls, with a mandate to secure justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. After countless hours of listening to the young girl’s story, documenting and monitors the conditions of abuse and oppression, medical examination was conducted and the judge issued an arrests warrant against the perpetrators; to bring them to justice.
Unfortunately, the perpetrator was tipped by the head of police as they were related. He is now at large, somewhere in Ivory coast. As for Amina, a foster home welcomed her, and she is now back to school, in Grade 6.
“I knew it was not easy for her to tell me, a stranger, about an experience she would much rather hide from and forget about.”Niala told us. It suddenly dawned on me as I listened to her story that I and my colleagues, along with our partners, had become the answer to this young girl’s silent plea for help. My work can be frustrating at times, but whenever I talk to girls like Amina and think about the countless others whose cries have yet to be heard, I cannot help but realize what an incredible privilege it is to be able to help them. When I think of these girls, I am able to look beyond each difficulty and welcome it as an opportunity.
The girls I represent have all been emotionally and physically abused, some for many years, and each one’s past affects them differently. As a result of her abuse, a girl can one day be cooperative and courageous, the next hostile and withdrawn. Despite the frustrations these variations may cause, I realize my girls are this way because they are, after all, ordinary people who have suffered under extraordinary pressure. Daniel, I am so glad you care to stand up with us in this fight to speak on behalf of the poor, the oppressed and the needy, those who cannot speak on their own behalf.
Through speaking up on behalf of the poor, the oppressed and the needy; those who cannot speak for themselves, I am committed to seeing similar stories of redemption lived out in the lives of thousands upon thousands of children as well, witnessing the personal investment of other extreme advocates in the like of Mama Niala who gave this young girl the opportunity to be and become.
My intention in sharing these stories with my readers is to mobilize them to become socially engaged for the welfare of all who are weak, oppressed and sold to poverty pimps who only count on the silence of us all to put an end to the hope of countless orphans and vulnerable children around our world.
Above all, “Thou shalt not be a victim, thous shalt not be a perpetrator, but above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” – Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
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