Tonight we arrived in Gulu after a 7+ hour bus ride. After a quick bite to eat, we visited Sport Outreach's Good News Community Center, the 40 acre site where Christine's House sits. Over the next few days the #F424Uganda team will be spending all our time there. Personally, I'll be using my time to provide sexual abuse trauma counseling training to the staff and volunteers who work daily with the home's residents.
During our quick visit to the home before the sun went down, I am struck by what I saw. Many girls who are sexually exploited are considered outcasts of society, slaves who learn never to trust another human being, and objects to be used for the purpose of another’s gain. Sitting in front of my computer and looking at the pictures of the girls from Christine’s Home, it is not despair that I feel, which I often experienced after a day spent with trafficking survivors. Rather, I feel a sense of hope as I see this emotion in their faces and remember the joy I heard as they raised their voices in song tonight during our short but moving time together. The staff speak compassionately and see these girls as daughters and sisters. They speak of a hope for a future for each girl, whether it be learning a trade or seeking a university education. The staff recognize that simply rescuing a girl from a dire situation is not enough, because the problem is one that is systemic. Thus, intervention is occurring at an individual, familial, and community level.
It is my hope that as you read the blog posts this week and hear the stories of the staff and girls of Christine’s House, that as readers, you recognize that these girls have not been served the life they deserved – one of respect and dignity. But, because of the staff of Christine’s House and the support you provide, these girls are regaining their dignity, their sense of safety, and their sense of well-being.
-Dr. Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw, Board Member