Anita, a happy girl with sparkling eyes, knew her father’s old friend when he came to her mother’s door late one night. So even though she was alone, she let him in, not realizing he was drunk.
Eventually she fell asleep. She woke up with a start when she felt him trying to take off her clothes. Panicked, she kicked and screamed so loudly that she woke the neighbors. They saved her that day from actual rape, but the emotional scars of the terrifying attack lingered.
Anita, now 11, was only five when her mother left her at Charisa Home. Her father had died of AIDS and her mother tested positive. In rural India most women are illiterate. Jobs are hard to come by when you are unskilled. Anita’s mother started working as a maid in as many houses as she could. Even so, she was not able to provide for Anita. She put her in a group home thinking it was best for her.
Charisa Home sends its girls back for occasional vacations when it is possible in the hope they will bond with remaining family members. Anita, however, was often alone because of her mother’s long work hours. It was during one such absence that she was attacked. That was two years ago and when she returned to Charisa, Anita had changed. She was very quiet, remote, avoided her friends and generally wanted to be left alone. Auntie Minima, who runs Charisa, encouraged her to be more outgoing guessing that her personality change might just be part of approaching adolescence.
Recently the home began David C Cook’s J127 Orphan Initiative, a program which helps orphans deal with their severe problems like loneliness and other emotional hurts. One topic covered is sexual abuse. The lessons were unusual for the kids, but they learned to recognize it if it is happening, and ways to keep themselves safe in situations where it is a danger. They also heard that sexual abuse is never their fault. Aunties and uncles as they are called, the leaders of J127, are trained specifically in detecting and counseling orphans about abuse and other traumas.
As Minima talked with the girls about forgiving a person who may have abused them, she saw Anita begin to cry and then sob uncontrollably. So Minima took her aside drew out the story of the attack that had plunged Anita into withdrawal and isolation.
With a lump her throat, Minima hugged and prayed with the hurting girl, who chose to forgive her attacker. Now she says,
I used to think only my parents can do good things for me, but now I know that only Jesus can truly do any good in my life. I don’t want to go back home, because the people around my home are very bad. Can I stay here and be safe?
Auntie Minima says,
Anita changed a lot since that day. She has started to open up. Please keep praying for her as she still shows occasional signs of fear.
Today Anita is in the sixth grade. She loves the J127 club activities. In January she learned about the lame man who was healed at Gate Beautiful, the story from Acts 3.
After he was healed he became very happy. He knew that he was healed inside as well as outside. He was a whole new person.
She is experiencing something similar.
These days Anita is known as “The Artist” at the girls’ home. Her talent surfaced through art therapy that is a regular feature of the J127 program. Its purpose is healing, much more than entertainment. Studies of art therapy confirm its effectiveness in cases of traumatic stress syndrome, serious illness and depression.
It is frightening to imagine how different Anita would be if it were not for caring Christians around her and the comprehensive J127 program. Thankfully, she is well on her way building a wholesome new life in Christ. Anita’s naturally cheerful personality is back.
Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.