From being a child forced to live on the streets to now claiming her space under the sun with confidence and hope, this is Tina’s journey.
Adversity is a part of human life and often as adults, we seek to raise children with the intentions and hope that they would never have to face adversity or hardship, that they remain protected and safe. However, as children move through life, we learn that there are often many things outside of our control, and that despite our best efforts, children will still go through challenges on their journeys.
But, what do we do with our desire to keep them safe then? How do we transmute this intention to keep them protected? We may not be able to control adversities, but we can find ways to equip them, by nurturing their innate human resilience.
In the moment, it can be hard to notice how these small acts of support impact children’s lives beyond that incidence, but over time, if we are lucky, we get to witness the impact in the adults they become, sort of like a perennial gift that keeps on giving.
The Call that Came
Early into the second wave of the pandemic, CSJ was inundated by distress calls from families of survivors as they struggled to pay rent or buy food. Such was the economic impact of the pandemic that we would also sometimes hear from families of children whom we have supported in the past.
On one such day of putting together ways and resources for these families, we received another call. We assumed it was another family in need, but this time around the caller was Tina!
Tina is a child we have known since she was 10 years old and who turned 18 this year! She was not actively receiving our support services anymore, so while we were happy to hear her voice, our first instinct was to immediately check in and ensure that she was okay and safe. As it turns out, Tina was completely okay and thriving. Instead, she was calling because she had some good news to share!
To hear that in the middle of distress calls was almost like the sun bursting out from behind dark clouds after days for us! Hearing her news brought so much joy to all of us, considering that a child who had lived the life she had, to be able to share such brilliant news was proof that a seed of support sown can bear fruit years later.
(Note: This year has been a series of new beginnings for Tina, and in fact, it was her journey that served as an inspiration for CSJ’s end of the year campaign, ‘Begin Again.’)
Tina moved to the city in 2012 with her ailing parents who were seeking treatment for tuberculosis. Their only child, she came with them, and the family of three stayed and slept on the streets since they had nowhere else to go. On one such night, she was abducted and assaulted by two men. After reporting, she eventually moved into a children’s shelter home (Child Care Institution) to ensure her safety in 2013.
While at the Institution, the caregivers and staff always noted the immense focus and strength that Tina displayed in her studies, and even in dealing with the adversities that came her way, including the eventual deaths of both her parents who succumbed to their illnesses. She continued to study, work hard, and lean on the network of support that was present for her at all times, to deal with her grief.
Not only has Tina stepped into adulthood this year and moved into an after care Home where she is supported towards navigating adulthood, she has also cleared her final school examinations scoring a whopping 84%!
The thrill and pride in her voice communicated the power of her spirit that, despite facing such harsh realities at a young age, carries her into adulthood with joy, hope and an unshakeable trust.
Very early on in her journey of navigating the criminal justice system, Tina understood her circumstances with a kind of grounded-ness that brought her attention to education. She saw education as being the key in shaping the rest of her life. With that awareness, she directed all her energy to give herself the best chance she could wherever possible. Tina is now gearing up to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in History and hopes to become a lawyer to represent children like her in court.
Long Term Impact
Often when speaking of impact on child survivors of sexual abuse, it is hard to articulate how extending support to a child validates their (very difficult and brave) decision to speak up about something that caused them harm and how that validation impacts them in the long run as they become adults. Tina’s call in the middle of the pandemic gave us the gift of trust that every act of support pays off in ways that we may not even be aware of. Despite impossible circumstances, Tina leapt with trust towards a network of support, and she found it!
CSJ is currently supporting over 200 children like Tina to access legal & psychosocial support. What we do today shapes the lives of children in innumerable ways. We believe that we can help many more children and this is where you can help us as we seek to raise funds under our campaign, ‘Begin Again.’ The funds we raise through this campaign will go towards providing long term care to more children. Donate now to help us in reaching our goals.
Every act counts. Donate now.