I want to introduce you to some of the people who have inspired us at Giraffe. So meet C, having her photo taken outside her school.
She smiles and gives a thumbs up, a little bundle of giggles and mischief. Out of shot, her teacher stands, a reassuring presence, but C doesn’t need any reassurance. Her sense of fun and confidence come from an understanding that she is treasured and valued, and her five year old sense of security is unshakeable. But that is about to change.
The slums are like any large city. Many people don’t come from there, they arrive like leaves on the wind, drawn in by the lure of work, or driven in by drought or famine in rural areas. Visits to families who have remained behind are rare but important occasions.
Soon after this photo was taken, Mum, C and her two older brothers visited family members at the coast, and by all accounts they had a merry time together. But in their absence, C’s dad, overcome with shame because he could not provide for his family as he wanted, ended his own life. The slums are dark places and in that moment the light of a little girl’s smile was extinguished.
Shortly after, C’s mum met someone who told her that there was work to be found in another country, and she simply went, leaving her children behind. The oldest looked after his siblings as best he could although he himself was very young – and to his credit, he somehow held this young family together.
C’s mum did eventually return and thankfully C is back in school. Her confidence will never be unshakeable again, but she presses on, hoping one day to escape the grip of the slum on her young life.
For us, she’s a symbol of how easily things can turn – and a reminder of why the support we and many others offer is so important to these children.