“The other HK girls are like my sisters,” Hope says, “We all (give each other advice) and console (each other) when we are stressed or have a problem. This is the only family I have and know.” Hope also demonstrates how the environment and services at Heshima inspire peace, empowering the young women to be catalysts for social change. “The girls are very helpful and we all love each other. We now can live together in harmony in spite of our different ethnic groups and countries. We can live together as sisters who share a common goal.”
Hope came to Heshima Kenya in 2009 after living with abusive host families in the slums of Kawangware, located just outside of Nairobi. With these families, Hope was subject to abuse and was forced to work long hours to complete all of the household chores, including caring for each families’ many children. She experienced extreme poverty – living with 8 other family members in a single room partitioned only with curtains. After rape attempts by one of the sons and the father of her second host family, Hope finally received help from a neighbor to reach the UNHCR, where she was placed with Heshima Kenya. Today Hope is living independently, attending school, and looking forward to resettle in Canada where her father lives and whom Heshima Kenya helped identify.
“Heshima Kenya has changed my life a lot!” Hope exclaims, stating she is finally able to access education, has obtained shelter and food, and feels safe. She stresses that while living in the community she was constantly fearful, but is finally free of attacks – like rape and other assault. She feels taken care of as she would if she were living with her own parents.
Hope is currently working very hard in school, where her favorite subjects are Kiswahili, Science, Social Studies, English and Mathematics. “I want to excel at it all,” Hope declares. Additionally, Hope looks to the other young women who have exited the Safe House as role models because they are able to live responsibly on their own – paying their rent and bills, and budgeting responsibly. She is grateful for the education, language, and income generating skills she is acquiring to help her achieve these goals. Down the road, Hopeaims to become a journalist but is also inspired by the work of Anne Sweeney and Talyn Good, the founders of Heshima Kenya. She, too, would like to assist orphans from war torn countries “I would encourage other Heshima Kenya girls to live with peace, love, and understanding.”