A Girl Named Sumaiah
When in Uganda, I had the opportunity to visit our partners at the Restore International Safe Houses, located in Kampala. These homes are a place of refuge for girls who have been through trauma on the streets and caught in prostitution. Each safe house offers therapy through a counselor and provides aunties who stand as a mentor in the home. The girls receive health care and an opportunity to go back to school, and regularly participate in activities such as singing, dancing and art lessons which aid them in creating a new and healthy life.
I want to share an interview with Sumaiah, who was found in a slum of Uganda and was given another chance through her growth at the Bukoto Home of Restore International. The following excerpt is given through her own words to which permission was granted to use:
To cut the story short, by the time they got me from the field, I was staying with my mom and dad. They were not financially stable, my mom decided to come to Kampala to look for money so that we could live.
I started to sell my body on the street at 14 years so I could get money to look after myself and pay for school fees, because I had brother and sisters that are so young, I had to look for a way to survive. I decided to go on the streets in the evening and then in the morning I would go to classes. That’s when the aunties came to the field and found me, when I was 17 years old.
When the aunties found me, I felt joy because I prayed for it before. I use to sit in my room and say Oh God, how can I leave this life, but I did not know any option. I just prayed to God to help me, but I did not know who these people were. So one day I felt good because I was not selling myself and I knew in the future I could be someone very important. The Lord heard me, I prayed for 3 months. I would go in the street, go to class but come home and pray, that’s when God helped me.
The aunties brought me here (to the restore homes). When they brought me here, we went through discipleship and I have been born again, I am not the same person. They taught me discipleship, how to love and respect yourself and others. How to love God. I learned that I am the temple of God, so I have to respect myself and I left all the burdens I had outside and here my life is good.
Now, I am going to take a course for 3 years to do education. I love children and want to work with young kids. I want to be a teacher or a social worker so that I can open up a home like this one. And if I don’t open up a home, at least I will have two children in my family. I have that heart because I see where I am now, and where people are suffering for a lack of guidance and money. I will do what I can to help, I want to be an example.
I hope to be an example to others, and I hope to fight for women and enter politics. Here in Uganda women do not have rights. They do not have a right to talk and maybe the right is there, but they are not utilizing it. They need someone to stand there and say, you can do it. For me, I want to stand there for women. My dream is that they succeed and have a voice.
Sumaiah is one of many girls whose life has dramatically changed for the better in correlation to the Restore International Homes. Each girl I interviewed will talk about their past as a victory and her desires to strive for dreams that result in helping others. They are the type of women who see the hurt and affliction in Uganda and say – no, you have a voice and it’s one that should be heard, freedom is yours and you can have it through Jesus.