One Community, One Campus: Ada's Story
Recently, the RefuSHE team invited you to participate in our One Community, One Campus campaign to fund the consolidation of our Girls Empowerment Program campus, Early Childhood Development campus, and administration office into one, centralized location. This past year we have experienced an influx of refugee girls fleeing their homes due to political and socio-economic instability in the region. Our classrooms are at-capacity and we need your support to provide more resources to our teachers, case managers, counselors, and the young women in RefuSHE’s care.
Throughout this campaign, we want to share the courageous and inspiring stories from some of the young refugee girls whose lives were touched by RefuSHE’s programs.
Below is a story of one young woman, Ada* and her son, James*:
Ada fled her home in Burundi with her parents in 2014 due to increasingly dangerous political conflicts. After arriving in Rwanda to seek asylum, her parents were killed. All alone, Ada made her way to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a kind Congolese woman offered to take her in. A little less than a year later, the woman passed away and Ada was alone once more. This time, Ada traveled by truck to Kenya – a long and dangerous journey with little protection, food, or water – in the hopes of being resettled.
Without knowing English or Kiswahili, Ada spent several nights alone on the streets. Eventually, an older refugee woman offered to take her in and enroll her in school. Ada was excited at the chance to live a normal and peaceful life, but was soon faced with the reality that her new host mother was being resettled to the US and could no longer care for her. Ada then found work with a family as a maid, where she had the opportunity to earn room and board. When her new host father began verbally and sexually abusing her, Ada felt trapped – unable to leave due to her refugee status and lack of options for basic needs.
After becoming pregnant, Ada escaped from the house and was referred to RefuSHE by the local UNHCR office. Ada explained:
“At first I was so upset and traumatized, I didn’t believe or even accept that I was pregnant. But with the help of RefuSHE’s counselors and my experience sharing with other girls, I started to loosen up. For quite some time, I kept to myself and was afraid of making friendships. Eventually, I started to bond with the staff and a few girls who seemed to understand me. They talked to me and assured me that all will be well. I accepted myself and felt that I was not alone. I felt protected and cared for.”
Since giving birth and welcoming her son, James, into her life, Ada has been able to advance in the Girls Empowerment Program while her son is being taken care of at the Early Childhood Development Center.
“I am so happy that my child is also taken care of in the ECDC while I attend class. My life is looking up and I am happy that I came to RefuSHE. I have a home; I have a family.”
Providing early childhood development and care to the children of the young mothers at RefuSHE is a critical component of our holistic model as it allows the young women in the Girls Empowerment Program to attend classes and focus on their studies so that they may gain the skills and knowledge to support themselves and their children in the future.
“To the world, RefuSHE is an organization, to me and my son, it is a safe haven, a home, a mirror for the future.”
Donate to the One Community, One Campus Campaign today and help us continue to serve young women and children like Ada and James!
*Names & photos have been changed to protect the privacy of our beneficiaries