Stories

Love Does Safe House: Meet Lucy

Love Does operates two safe houses in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. We want to introduce you to Lucy*, one of the wonderful girls who lives there.  

When Lucy was a young girl you could always find her giggling and playing with her friends. She was curious and loved learning. She looked forward to attending school everyday because like many kids growing up in East Africa, she knew school meant opportunities that she wouldn’t have otherwise.  

What Lucy couldn’t have imagined is that her own father wouldn’t support her in her dreams of a better life. In fact, he would be the very person who would prohibit her from continuing her education. At just ten years old, Lucy's father began taking advantage of her and her sister in a way that no girl should ever have to experience. Soon after, he started bringing men back to their home to sleep with his daughters in exchange for money.   

Lucy eventually confided in her sister who had also been forced to sleep with the men. Her sister decided that she had had enough and called the police. The police are very familiar with the work of Love Does in the area and they realized that this was a case where Love Does could be involved. The social workers at our safe house were brought in to the situation, and knew that they could provide the safe place that Lucy desperately needed - a home and a family.

At age 12, Lucy, young and beautiful, timid and kind, became the newest member of the Love Does home. Lucy is now surrounded by love and protection from the other girls and counselors, and they have created their own beautiful family. 

Life can be really hard, and there is a lot of darkness in the world, but there is always hope. We are so thankful that for Lucy, darkness didn’t win, and justice was served. She is a fighter, and she is worth fighting for.

*All names have been changed for safety and privacy*

 

Love Does Safe House: Meet Mary

As a mother or a father, it is common to want more for your children, to hope and fight for a better life for them. Parents often work selflessly to provide a life where their children have what they need; the physical necessities, and also the emotional care that their little hearts desire. For Mary's mother, it was a struggle to even put food on the table for her daughters. In order to make ends meet, Mary's mother was forced into a life of prostitution. 

   Due to their mother's job, Mary and her sister were often left to fend for themselves for days on end. Alone, they were defenseless against the men that would come into their home and take advantage of them. Thankfully, a probation officer took notice of what was happening and intervened. The officer introduced Mary to the social workers at the Love Does safe house, and they welcomed her into her new family. 

    When Mary’s mother found out that her daughter was in a safe place she was incredibly grateful. The pain of not having her daughter around was silenced by her immense relief that she was in a loving environment where she was truly cared for and protected. This is the true love of a mother. 

Love Does Safe House: Meet Esther

Belonging is an inherent desire, a common thread among all people.  We all long to be cared for, to be desired, to be loved. Unfortunately, for many girls like Esther, our safe house is the first place that they have ever felt that belonging. 

When Esther was a child, she was passed from relative to relative, no one wanting the responsibility of a young girl. When she was with her father he would take advantage of her, and when she was with her grandparents she often suffered physical abuse.  Esther was trapped, scared and alone. 

Esther recalls her story with a sense of grief and heaviness. She recounts a time when she threatened to call the police on her grandparents and they said if she did so they would kill her. Thankfully, someone else was able to call on her behalf, and the Love Does social workers were brought into the situation. The Love Does home gained a lovely new member, and Esther was able to go back to being a kid again. 

After months of counseling, tender love and care, Esther is gaining back the little sparkle in her eye. She describes the girls in the home as ‘her best friends.’ and says that, ‘things are happening that she never believed possible.’ Esther found the place that she belongs. 

A Story Of Hope From Uganda

 

Do you know how much power you have to change the world through love? We’re blown away by it all the time.The way you give and love is making it possible for kids all around the world to have a second chance, and we’re so grateful.  Here’s a story from Northern Uganda of what you’ve done to give one young child a home, a family, a future, and an abundance of love.

All Ivan ever wanted was a family, and to be loved, but shortly after he was born, Ivan's parents passed away. His extended family dropped him off at an orphanage where he spent his childhood feeling abandoned and lonely. 

Ivan wanted so badly to be loved he even volunteered to take care of the pigs at the orphanage, hoping the owners would recognize his value and care for him more.

Throughout his loneliness, he relied on his faith to get him through, “I asked God to show me His plan for my life because I knew that it was greater than where I was at, that he wanted me to thrive in a place of love, I just needed to find that.”

At nine years old, Ivan finally thought that he found his family. A couple came to the orphanage, saw his shy, hopeful smile, and brought him home. They cared for Ivan, took him to a school for art, and inspired in him a love for creation and expression. But sadly, after just a couple of years, they could not afford to keep him, so they dropped him off once again, this time at the gates of Restore Leadership Academy. 

For Ivan, this felt like abandonment all over again, and he struggled to get settled. He didn’t like school, and all the hurt made it hard for him to connect. But the reality was that it was the start of something more wonderful than he could have ever hoped. With time, the continuous love and support that he was shown began to knock down his walls and open his heart. Ivan finally found his family, and this time, he wasn’t going to lose them.

While at Restore Leadership Academy, Ivan studied hard, reignited his love for art, and made lifelong friendships. After he graduated, he started his own business painting and selling pieces of art to people throughout Uganda. His business is thriving, and to this day Ivan calls Restore his home and the people there his family. 

Ivan’s story is why we are so grateful for you. You have created this beautiful place where, in a world so in need of love, a kid like Ivan got a second chance. You proved that all children are worthy of love and belonging. And even more, you proved that anyone has the power to bring more light and love into the world - one child, one act of kindness at a time. 

Topista

Names are a funny thing. They are given to you at birth by parents who don't yet know you, and most of the time, they stick. But what you choose to be called, that is a different matter entirely. 

She was born with the name Sharon. When she was in 4th grade, she had a teacher named Topista that she loved, and decided to change her name. From then on, she always wrote Sharon Topista on her papers and documents. Life is a little bit like that, especially in a place like Nothern Uganda. You are born, you are given life circumstances that dictate a lot of who you are and what you do, but you also have the ability to change it, to be molded and blessed by the the people in your life. Topista's story is one of breaking free, of defying odds and becoming exactly who she wanted to be, through a sometimes unlikely set of events. 

Topista has overcome so much in her short life, from an abusive father to a lack of financial stability, her life at home was not an easy one. But she knew deep in her heart that she wanted to change the course of her future. So she walked three hours to RLA and was able to pave the way for the rest of her sisters to also attend the school. After attending RLA and then our sister school, Cornerstone, Topista set her sights on law school.  She feels continually pulled towards justice for underprivileged women and children. Topista is especially intrigued by criminal justice. She wants to do good work, and be a trusted lawyer that people will turn to when they need help. 

The day Topista found out she was admitted to law school was an incredible celebration. Here is what she remembers from that day: She ran, and felt like she was flying. She was staying in a house with 12 girls in Kampala, so she ran all around the house, screaming, “You people! I have gone through! I am going to be a lawyer!” . They made so much noise that day, but it didn’t even matter. She was so excited! She doesn’t even remember if she ate that day, and couldn’t stop smiling. Currently Topista is in Law School and we know with out a doubt that this girl will be a world changer.

This Is Helen

Did you know that Love Does has two safe houses in Kampala Uganda, with a total of 30 girls living between them?

At our safe homes, we aim to focus on reconciliation of girls with their home communities. Upon entering the homes, Molly, our resettlement coordinator, will begin to identify the girls’ home communities and begin the forgiveness and reconciliation process. Since the first safe house opened, we have seen more than 40 girls who were living lives entrenched with sexual exploitation transform into visions of hope and joy. The girls have participated in Bible studies, character development and discipleship, community work, arts and crafts and many other activities. We have seen a great improvement in the character and behavior of the girls. They are freely opening up to the mentors and have started appreciating the new life they are experiencing amidst their past.

One of our girls, Helen* has an incredible story of transformation! When we first met Helen, she was living in the slums of Kampala living a life filled with prostitution and drugs. Now, just 3 years later, Helen has graduated from a cosmetology program & has been reconciled with her family. Helen is just one of the many girls living in our safe homes, that has worked hard to make changes in her life, and with the help of the amazing staff & mentors she is able to do so!

Helen’s story is made possible because of friends who support our Safe Houses in Kampala.

*For safety and privacy reasons, Helen’s name and photo have been changed.