Jolien Veldwijk – Peacebuilding Initiatives Rotating Header Image

Back at the Street Children Centre in Juba

Before my departure tomorrow morning for Malakal, I decided to visit Cathy Groenendijk, the lady who runs the only drop-in street children centre for girls, Confident Children out of Conflict. Some of you may remember my entries from a few months ago when I first met some of the girls and heard their horrible life stories of hunger, rape, incest and molestation. One of these girls I will never forget: 7-year old Sabila. However, as I spoke about her earlier, I would now like to bring her sister to your attention. She is the youngest prostitute in Juba: only 9 years old. I have no words for this. My mind went completely blank when Cathy told me. When a street girl decides to become a prostitute it basically means she realises she can also get paid for the abuse she suffered and she may as well try to get some money for it. In a crude and very cynical way it makes even somewhat sense. But according to Cathy, when this happens, it is even harder for the girl to start a ‘normal’ life. To live a life without having sex for money. Or even more ‘normal’: to live a life as a child, safe and protected, well-fed and properly clothed. All of the things we consider to be normal living circumstances for children.

And I’ve seen it in their eyes. the depth of deadness seems to become more intense and stronger, the more they start to understand how their world works.

Isn’t there anything we can do? There must be!!

And there is! Lack of time (seriously, I am leaving in a few hours to go the inner border of Sudan and I haven’t packed yet) stops me from writing a long list of all that you can do. And next to giving loads of money there are tons of things you can do. However, I will tell you about those later. I brought the contents of a collection I did after my lecture at the University of Cambridge to Cathy and she said it will buy school shoes for some of the girls she enrolled for school! How cool is that?!

That brings me to another point: Cathy’s leap of faith. Cathy enrolled all of the street girls into school. All 150 of them!! And she does not even have the money to pay for all of their school fees! Including transportation, food, books and uniforms, it costs $800 per child to go to school. Yes, prepare yourself for a blog about fundraising activities!

I think it is amazing that there is someone out there who makes herself strong for these children, no matter how much she has to give up for them. And she has given up a lot.

I have to go now, but please bear Cathy, Sabila, her sister (the youngest prostitute of Juba) and all the other girls  who live on the streets where they eat of garbage dumps and get abused and defiled daily in mind and in your heart.

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