Andrina (not her real name) is one of the young people in our youth programme. She is 14, but we have known her since she was 3. She was abandoned by her mother who left to try and find greener pastures in America when Andrina was only 2. Her grandmother took her, but soon passed her on to Andrina’s Aunt (Charmaine), who is one of our volunteers. Once, Charmaine called Andrina’s mother to say that she needed some help to provide for her, and the mother’s response was; “Look if you can’t manage her then just give her away.”
At the age of 12 Andrina went back to her grandmother where she thought she would have more freedom. Her father lives in America and sends money to the grandmother to help look after her, but that money usually gets spent on the others living in the household. So Andrina frequently misses school because she does not have the bus fare or any money for lunch, despite being told by her teachers that she is one of the brightest girls in her class.
A few weeks ago at the youth club Andrina asked to talk at the end, and asked us to pray about her situation. Her cousin even had to intervene recently after Andrina had been beaten by another young man living in the household. As we listened, and then prayed, I went away with a heaviness of heart because of the pressures she is facing and no immediate solution.
As we continued to pray for her, and look for ways to help, someone stepped forwards to provide a monthly sum to help her get to school each day. Robert, who worked with us for 5 years and is now the principal of a school in the community, has also found someone to help provide support for her, so between those two sources she will have enough to get to school every day.
When I told Andrina this, she smiled, said thank you and became visibly more relaxed. Although her living situation, for which there is no simple solution, is unchanged … listening, praying and finding a practical way to express care has already made a big difference.
At the core of it, this is the main thing our work exists for, simply to let young people in these kinds of circumstance know that someone cares.
(Since this was written Andrina has been able to move back with her Aunt which is a much better living situation for her.)