*Lacey has such a special place in the heart of Rafiki Mwema. She was the first child to arrive through our doors from the remand centre over 5 years ago, a malnourished baby girl, covered in cuts ringworm and sores. To say she was strong willed was an understatement – she was bossy, cross and controlling – and I fell in love with her within 2 minutes! I’d love to say the feeling was returned but it most certainly wasn’t! She told me later that her village told her that white people captured small children and cooked them – so sensibly she refused to eat so I would cook another child! No wonder she was stressed!
*Lacey was a brave little 6 year old when I met her, who learnt to experience love and trust and gave some back in return. Her first time with us she stayed around 18 months. She testified in court and eventually her perpetrator was jailed for life. We were over the moon and this little angry bundle of crossness blossomed into one of the funniest, more enchanting girls I have had the pleasure of knowing. You should see the passion she sings with -that energy – it’d melt snow!
We worked closely with her village and family and she returned home. We kept in contact but I know now that what we did was not enough. We are so much more robust in our outreach and follow ups and ALL our girls are visited with more scheduled and unannounced visits from our highly trained team. Very very sadly she was abused again, by a member of her family. We were in shock and our little baby girl returned a shell of the girl who left us.
She came back fierce and rough and was always at the centre of a disagreement. She wore what was left of her heart on her sleeve. Broken, scared and grieving.
Over time love filtered back into her heart but the trust was harder to gain. *Lacey and I reconnected with a strong bond that holds firm to this day.
She returned to therapy; she accessed education but her soul was broken. She missed her family so much. She kept telling us that she had a sister who would care for her, so our outreach went in search of her and eventually found her.
Through a long vigorous process it was deemed safe for her to live with her sister. the outreach team have done an outstanding job of supporting and connecting to the family and *Lacey was loved by her sister. Some of *Lacey’s behaviours, driven by the abuse and fear she has experienced, were difficult for her sister to understand and manage and we saw some cracks appearing. We didn’t want *Lacey to feel unsafe or unwanted and we knew things could deteriorate.
Luckily a space became available at the school our girls attend and *Lacey has joined us for term times. She will go back to her sister for holidays. They are her family and she loves them.
This way she accesses education, is back in the heart of Rafiki but is still connected to the family that she needs and who love her.
Welcome home beautiful girl – see you very soon – you look so smart in your uniform.