These are real stories from real people we have encountered. Each story highlights the frequent pain, distress and cry for help we come across regularly. These stories break our hearts but also motivate us to support children and train communities in Zambia.

Joyce & Mary

Joyce is the Head Teacher of a community school in Lusaka. She attended the Tehila ‘Safe Places’ training programme in September 2012. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, Joyce took action to protect Mary.

Following the training, Joyce was approached by one of her pupils called Mary. Mary complained that she had been sexually abused by a male adult neighbour. Mary was 13 years old at the time. Whilst her mother was absent from the home, Mary had gone to collect vegetables from the field and her neighbour had followed and raped her. The neighbour had approached Mary’s mother offering money to settle the issue. The mother lives in poverty and was attracted by this offer. The rape left Mary pregnant and unsure whether she had contracted HIV.

Joyce knew what to do and took action. She encouraged the mother and child to report the incident to the police and not accept money from the abuser. She stressed the importance of enabling her daughter to receive the medical and psycho-social treatment that she needed. She went with them to the police, where a statement was made.

Sarah

‘I have not had an easy childhood but one day soon I will look up and smile!’

Sarah moved from a rural village to the city of Lusaka when she was 9 years old. Her auntie had given birth to twins and Sarah was needed to help out around the home. Having left her mother and siblings, Sarah was treated very badly for many years, accused of being demon possessed, mad and abnormal by her Auntie, cousins and the local community. Consequently, Sarah grew up feeling very rejected and unloved. In addition to this emotional abuse, Sarah was treated differently than her cousins, missing out on new clothes and having to resort to eating food from the family bin. Yet, despite this traumatic upbringing, Sarah now runs a small business making and selling earrings, to raise money for further studies.

Sarah attended the Tehila ‘Safe Places’ training course in 2013 to learn more about helping children in her role as a Sunday school teacher. Sarah felt the course gave her a better understanding on how to protect children from harm. She felt equipped with the knowledge to detect different forms of child abuse. Sarah explained that this was helpful as she spends a lot of time with children, getting to know them and what they are going through.

When asked about her future, Sarah is passionate to find a job connected to working with children and would like to share her training with other adults that she works with, to help them care for children. She doesn’t want to give up.

Gift

Gracious attended the ‘Safe Places’ training in 2012 and has been a passionate advocate for children’s safety since. In November 2014, she reported a serious child protection issue to Tehila. Gift, aged 14, had been raped over a 6 month period by a 50 year old male neighbour. When Tehila met him, he was frightened, weak and withdrawn. Gracious worked with Tehila and other partners to find him a safe place to live and support him to access counselling and medical treatment. Gracious has continued to support Gift throughout the court hearing.

Pastor Evans

“Prior to the training, I was blind to the issues of child abuse, both as a minister and parent. I overlooked the way in which I spoke to my own children and the impact my words can have on them. One Sunday after a church meeting, I heard some crying. Two children were very upset. Initially I thought about the spiritual side, thinking one of the children may be demon possessed. The child was having terrible dreams about his aunty and I would previously have thought it was witch craft and treated it as such. But because I was trained in child protection, I switched in my head to the child protection training. I could have concluded witchcraft but I looked deeper. I asked the child what was the problem. The child said he was overworked and not able to play with his friends.

I spoke to his parents and asked them if he could stay with me for three weeks so I could observe him. During this time, it was clear that the child was not demon possessed. He was not stubborn. Instead, he grew and developed by being in a different environment. So, I explained to the mother that this child was behaving like this because of the way he was being spoken to and being treated. It was because of his environment not witch-craft.”

Gracious

“I noticed 5 year old Gracious at my school was eating alone.  She was refusing to talk.  When I asked how she was feeling, she started crying saying that she had a sore on her private parts.  I took the child into my office and told her to undress and I looked at the sore.  It was very bad and infected.  I asked the child how she came to get this sore.  The child said it was a man. I called the mother and the mother said that a man raped her during her holiday to the village.  They went to the hospital and she was tested for HIV and is negative.  She is on medication for her sore.  The mother made a decision not to report this to the police as it happened a year ago and she did not know who this man was.  Because I did the training on child protection, I was more aware and could notice some of the signs of abuse in the child”.