When Florence first arrived at Uganda's Imvepi Refugee Settlement, having traveled on foot from South Sudan, she clearly was traumatized. A lifelong orphan, in 2017 she had joined a group of girls who were desperate to flee the violence of civil war in South Sudan.
This fall, ChildVoice is launching its Girl Empowerment Centers in the IDP camps of Nigeria with the hope of reaching adolescent refugee girls suffering from isolation and despair. In order to enroll 1,000 girls in our Nigeria Empowerment Centers this fall, we urgently need your help today!
Imagine being forced to flee your village because of horrific attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, who kill and maim indiscriminately. Tragically, that is the reality for thousands of young girls who now live in the relative security of IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps in northeast Nigeria. However, their struggle is not over. In some cases, it has just begun.
Imagine being born into severe poverty, the child of an adolescent girl who was herself a victim of war and violence. Add to that the challenges and stigma of living with a major physical disability, and you get some idea of the obstacles faced by these three children of former ChildVoice students that we’d like to tell you about.
Over a recent one-month Ugandan school holiday, ChildVoice had the opportunity to host a group of South Sudanese boarding students at the Lukome Center in northern Uganda. These girls are in the African Soul, American Heart (ASAH) program. Their time at the Lukome Center was spent interacting with ChildVoice students from both South Sudan and Uganda, as well as getting a taste of vocational training that would add another dimension to the education they receive at St. Noa boarding school outside Kampala.
Denise Stasik has worked in healthcare for many years and is an active community volunteer in her home state of New York. Travel to Africa is nothing new to her; she has volunteered in rural African villages in four different countries, including Uganda, where she traveled this past November with ChildVoice. Denise also has traveled to Haiti on numerous occasions over the past 11 years. Denise and her husband, Greg, have three children and three grandchildren.
Nancy Hellmann is a long-time friend of ChildVoice who lives in Dover, New Hampshire. She also is a strong advocate for empowering adolescent girls who have been victimized by war and poverty. Nancy traveled to the Lukome Center in northern Uganda with a team in August 2017, 10 years after her first visit to the Center.
Paige Balcom is a mechanical engineer who studied the feasibility of employing an aquaponic system at the Lukome Center in northern Uganda while on a nine-month Fulbright research grant. She immersed herself in the Ugandan culture and enjoyed the challenges of engineering in Uganda. Here is the first in a series of Paige’s fascinating blogs.