An Interview with Mercy, a former St. Clare student and a recent Chestnut Hill College graduate:
Can you tell us about your arrival at the St. Clare Centre for Girls?
“At first everything was very strange. But you get adjusted, and you realize you are here for a reason, and you feel safe. I got some clothes and went to the dispensary; when you come as one person you are lonely and you don’t know what to expect.”
What was your biggest challenge at St. Clare?
“Teachers come and go, and you have to adjust to new teachers; when a new matron arrives, it takes time to get to know her. Also sometimes we had no water or electricity.”
The Situation in Kenya
Imagine a life spent living on the streets, no guarantee of food or shelter, constantly threatened with physical and sexual abuse, and no access to education. Now imagine you are 10 years old.
This is the unfortunate reality for thousands of orphaned, abandoned and abused girls in Kenya today. Young girls (6-12 years old) are often forced to marry older men and must work as their slaves, laboring intensively, caring for livestock, carrying wood and water, and doing their husband's bidding.
Others are orphaned at a young age by HIV and tribal conflict or forced to run away from abusive homes and female genital mutilation – a practice that is still popular in some areas of the country. These children are targeted and sexually abused by both their older husbands and strangers who take advantage of their situation.
Unlike the government funded programs in other developed nations, there are very few, if any, places these girls can turn to for help in Kenya. Without the fundamentals to survive and the struggles and threats of everyday living, many live in a constant state of stress and fear. Their situation is dire.
Organizations like Friends of Kenyan Orphans provide the means for them to have a chance at a childhood, a life. We've experienced firsthand the impact a helping, loving hand has on the life of these girls. The laughter, singing and fun of being a young girl returns once they feel safe, cared for and are given a chance at a future.
These girls are strong and brave, but they can't realize their dreams without your help! You can provide support through a general donation or by sponsoring a child.