Happy New Year from the girls and staff of Rapha House International! Please enjoy this update from our Client Services Director in Haiti!
A few months ago, we reintegrated half of our girls, and we had a send-off ceremony, to provide some closure and to formally mark this important transition. As our program in Haiti is only 2 years old, this was our first reintegration ceremony. Most of the girls had been with us for close to 2 years, so I knew that it was going to be emotional, but I was unprepared for the intensity of it. Many of the girls wept and held each other throughout the day. It was heart-wrenching and at the same time beautiful, because this kind of grief means that there has been great love-- deep bonds formed through this shared journey of healing. We gave the girls opportunities to speak and here are a few of the statements which were made-
“Rapha House is not an organization-- it is a family.'"
"When I came to Rapha House, I had a lot of weaknesses-- now I have a lot of strengths."
"I had come to a place where I felt that my life was over, that I wasn't even a person anymore. But then I came to be a part of the Rapha House family and everything changed."
"I can now say that I believe in myself and I am proud of who I am."
"What you have done for me, my own family wouldn't do. And now I can help others who are in the same situation I was in."
"The person I was yesterday, I am not that person today. God has changed my life through Rapha House and I am so thankful for that."
Most days this work is difficult, as the girl’s anger, grief, and mistrust of others is often directed towards us, our staff, and each other as they process the trauma that they have experienced in their lives. But hearing these things from those who had been with us for a while served as great encouragement for all of us and reminded us that God truly is at work through this ministry.
For the most part, our reintegrated girls are doing well. There have, of course, been many challenges for all of them as they readjust to life outside the safe house. All but one are continuing with their schooling, and we have been able to provide job placements for the three oldest. Our social workers continue to do follow-up visits, and our counselors are doing ongoing family counseling with several of them. Please continue to pray for the reintegrated girls, for their protection, for their hearts, and they would remember who they are and Whose they are.
Two of our newest girls at Rapha House came to us pregnant (both age 14), and one has since given birth to a precious baby girl. The adjustment to motherhood has been difficult for this young mama, so please pray for her. Some of our girls have court cases going on, so I would also ask for your prayers for protection for them, for our staff, and for our program as a whole. Pursuing legal justice and being involved in putting or keeping anyone in prison is risky business in Haiti.
Another thing that we have been involved with over the past few months is the new Anti-Trafficking Commission started by the Haitian government. We have been attending weekly meetings to discuss and plan awareness and prevention efforts, specifically in the aftermath of the hurricane. One of the first big projects of the Commission is setting up a nationwide hotline where trafficking cases can be reported. They asked Rapha House, along with IOM, to come and train the agents who will be responding to the hotline calls. The hotline is now live, and we expect the safe house will be full again very soon. We are one of only two safe houses recognized by the government in the Port-au-Prince area, and the other one is for very temporary stays (1-2 weeks). As far as we know, we are the only therapeutic care facility in all of Haiti that is specifically for minors who have been victims of sexual violence. This is an enormous responsibility and I am often overwhelmed by the scope of the problem here and how few resources exist to address it. Please pray with us that God would provide the finances needed to eventually expand Rapha House's program here, and that He would bring other partners to do high-quality and much-needed work in this domain in Haiti.
Your prayers and support are among the many things that we are thankful for! Thank you for your continued outpouring of love for the children we serve!
Happy New Year from Haiti,