Karla, 14, and her father, Pastor Pedro, live in La Palmas, Honduras. Together they are making a difference in the lives of children in their neighborhood. “I’m part of the youth club [called] ‘Building friendships.’ This club is supported by the World Vision project, Fostering Hope at Home, where we work with children and teenagers on topics that will change their lives,” says Karla. “Due to the lack of a strong income, many parents spend most of their time working, leaving their children by themselves at home. This makes them an easy prey for gangs that unfortunately rule the neighborhood,” she says.
“Just the week before [the] lockdown started in our area I filled my store with new goods. I brought mostly the kitchen items like [the] electric kettle, fan, iron, gas stove, and rice cooker. I invested all the savings that I earned from my tailoring store,” says Sahinoor, 35, an entrepreneur and a single mother who is raising her two children Shanta, 15, and Shourav, 7. She lives in a slum in Khulna, a city in southern Bangladesh.
Marcellina is a 16-year-old, grade 10 student at St Joseph Chepterit Girls High School and marvels when she considers how fast life has changed in just three years. She now epitomizes the future of a changed society.
“I grew up in a patriarchal culture that emphasized more on conformity to the norms and practices of the community. Whereas this culture has some positive aspects, a lot of it is negative,” Marcellina shares. “These harmful negative cultural vices such as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and child marriages are so institutionalized and no one dares speak against them.”
Marcellina recalls being a grade 7 pupil at Ortum Girls Primary, when her head teacher selected her to represent the school in the first ever County Children’s Assembly.
Kumari* is 15 and studies in the 10th grade. She is part of a World Vision ‘Girl Power Group’ where she learned how to protect herself from abuse. She was taught three steps: she must scream, she must get away, and she must report the incident to people she trusts…immediately. Unfortunately, she had to use what she learned in real life.
She was walking alone to a study group when a man from her street stopped her. It was dark with no streetlights. The man started speaking in a lewd manner and proposed that she take part in a sexual act.
Jamila is the leader of the Jorna (Bengali for “waterfall”) Girl Power Group (GPG). The GPG meets every Sunday afternoon and they dutifully sign their names in a register. “In case some girls don’t show up, we go to their homes to check on them,” says Jamila. World Vision helped launch Girl Power Groups to help ensure girls do not go missing.
Much to Jamila’s horror, one day it was her own sister Salima who was missing. Jamila shares, “There were tears in my eyes. My sister was gone. We were always together. My only sister.”
“Eleven-year-old girl Amena is a gifted child. She draws good portraits. She learns to dance so quickly. She sings folksongs so well,” says Moitry Snal, Child Protection project staff of World Vision in southern Bangladesh. Amena lives with her adoptive family in a poor area of Khulna. Parul Begum, 48, brought Amena into her home where she lives with her two adoptive brothers and father. Parul first saw Amena walking alone on the street in the slum and felt that she needed to do something, so she took her home and became her adoptive parent.
Three years ago, Sharon’s life resonated with American President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quote, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” She was born and raised in North Pokot, Ken-ya, an area known for perpetuating harmful customs to girls. This included Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, a practice that is illegal in Kenya. Sharon*, who was twelve at the time, knew she was at risk of being circumcised and handed over to a potential suitor for marriage. The only hope she had was her grandmother who could protect her from being married off.
|Inspector Juliet works to solve cases against children in the Child Protection Unit of the Kapenguria Police Station|
Inspector Juliet Tuwei, 34, recalls an incident that happened six months ago. What she thought would be a restful evening, turned out to be one of her most dreadful. As she prepared to leave for the day, she received a distress call from a village chief informing her that three girls under the age of 18 had just undergone female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C). She dropped everything and quickly drove to the scene of the crime.
To ensure a proper investigation, she seized both the perpetrators of the crime and the victims so she could build a solid case.
Vivian’s story is rooted in poverty. She says, “My dad married four wives… I had so many problems.” She and her siblings had to do odd jobs like selling firewood just to find money for food, and, even though she loved school, she had to drop out in class four. The weight of poverty and cultural pressures forced Vivian — and many of her peers — to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). Though she tried to run away to her sister’s, Vivian had no choice when her sister sent her back. About a month after being cut, a stranger came and took her to his house to be his wife. Vivian was 12 years old.
She became an example to everyone in the church. She gives hope and teaches the love of God to children during Sunday school and her smile brings joy to all that surround her. She is only 14 years old and at a very young age, Julie* has seen the darkness of life, felt the pain of losing her loved ones, but at the same time found the strength to get up, move forward and shine. Julie lives in a neighborhood surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence. “Living in this neighborhood can be very scary. There is a lot of poverty, a lack of opportunities and broken families.