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Stolen Innocence

Thanks to your support, Sunday and her family are on the path to healing

We tell our children, “Don’t be in a hurry to grow up,” because we, as adults, know that life can get difficult, expensive, and complicated. We want our children to be kids for as long as possible; to enjoy the naivety that comes with being taken care of.

Through the innocent eyes of a child, the world is a wonderful place, with magic and opportunity at every corner. Loving parents, guardians, and caregivers, aim to protect this innocence, but for some, it is stolen.

This is the case for *Sunday and her parents in Aweil, South Sudan. Barely making ends meet, and expecting another child of their own, Sunday’s parents now cope with a  pregnant teenager.

Sunday, 13,  was impregnated by an 18-year-old man not far away from her house, but when her supposed “lover” ran away to the next city, abandoning her, she wished her life away. After surviving an attempted suicide, the family of the man wanted her as a wife, but Sunday’s parents were against marrying off their daughter, especially to a family that was not mindful of her wellbeing. A month into her pregnancy, she was abused by her would-be brother-in-law. Thankfully, her mother came to her rescue and brought her back home.

Sunday’s parents wish more for her. It is their dream that she would instead go back to school and build something meaningful for herself. However, when one is pregnant, the locals say otherwise.

*Sunday (not victim’s real name) seated outside her paternal home in Nyalath.

In South Sudan, it is culturally accepted that, once a woman is impregnated, it is the man’s duty to marry and take care of her. Unfortunately, for Sunday, and so many like her, women are commonly left abandoned, injured, and traumatised; carrying the shame of what has happened to them. In fact, it is estimated that over 39,000 females over the age of 12 have experienced some form of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) since January 2017 in this region. 

Sunday’s parents continued to fight for their daughter. The matter was reported to the police with hope that Sunday would be freed of the worry of being married away, even though she is with child. 

To the family, it feels like an uphill battle, but because of generous donors like you, there is hope for Sunday’s future. Because of your contributions, Tearfund’s local partner CEDS (Centre for Emergency and Development Support) learned of the incident, and Sunday is currently receiving counselling sessions to ensure that she can cope with her situation and does not attempt to kill herself again. 

Sunday’s father hopes that his daughter may find courage to walk tall again and ignore the constant stares and ridicule she continues to endure. To win back her confidence, healing of the spirit and emotions is vital, and the best agent to deliver this is the local church. 

Thanks to faithful givers like you, Tearfund is empowering women in the community to train, to listen, and share about the love of God, the power that comes from forgiveness, and God’s heart for the broken. We believe that this is the key to healing. 

“I feel so bad seeing my daughter like this, but I know there is light on the other side of the tunnel,” says Sunday’s mother.

Sunday’s father says the first steps in counselling are the hardest, but he has hope that it will only become less painful from here. The innocence of his daughter cannot be renewed, but thanks to your support, they are on the path to healing.

You can support people like Sunday and give families a future without hunger and extreme poverty.

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