We could hear their cherub voices singing praises before we even laid eyes on them. They were the students at Cindi's Hope Academy in Naivasha, Kenya. Then came the rush to surround us, faces beaming with eagerness to greet their visitors, and then to lead us excitedly to the new highlight of their campus: bright, new playground equipment!
Below are just a few of the many testimonies we receive about lives being impacted and transformed by the Victims of Sexual Violence Ministry of Heaven’s Family.
Widows are made when husbands die prematurely. In their absence, women and children in poor nations are often left with nothing—no money for rent, medicine or even food. No government assistance ever comes. Other "widows," such as Miriam in the photo above, are made when husbands leave their families for other women, or to pursue lives of crime or drugs—or all of the above.
The story I am about to tell you is very disturbing, yet I feel that, as those who care deeply about the victims of sexual violence, especially those most innocent, it is a story that must be told—not for the purpose of emotional manipulation, but to give you information on which you can act.
Rebecca's smile said it all, but then she added these precious words: "I feel blessed...God has given me a new uniform. I feel loved and taken care of. I actually look new!" It wasn't long ago that Rebecca was languishing in a slum that defies description, suffering abuse and neglect.
Over the past few decades, armies of men have been fighting in East Africa's wars, taking millions of lives and displacing millions more. Rape has now also become a weapon of war. Many victims find themselves infected with AIDS or pregnant, carrying offspring of the "enemy." Married victims are cast off by their husbands. Unmarried victims are marked and spurned for life. All find themselves rejected by their families and local communities, casualties of war. The brutality has become so epidemic that Eastern Congo has been labeled the "rape capital of the world" by a U.N. Special Representative.