Your support is helping teenagers like Anita* recover from the trauma of rejection and abuse and discover what love and family are really meant to be like...
Anita's parents abandoned her when she was five. Although she was taken in by her grandparents the rejection affected her deeply. The very people who should have protected her, loved her and cherished her didn’t want to know her.
The wrong crowd
Her early teenage years were incredibly hard as she tried to negotiate life without a parent's guidance. She looked for acceptance in all the wrong places and fell in with a destructive crowd who she thought were her friends.
Instead, they sold her repeatedly for sex.
Then Anita found out she was pregnant. At that time she was living with a man, the father of her baby. But when she told him she was pregnant he said he had never loved her and was actually engaged to someone else. Finally, he agreed that she could stay with him until the baby was born but after that he never wanted to see her again. When her waters broke he threw her out of the house and told her not to come back. He refused to take her to hospital, so in desperation Anita called a taxi.
A stark choice
With her new baby in her arms Anita's choice was stark. Her grandparents had said she could come back only if she gave the baby to an orphanage. The alternative, so Anita believed, was homelessness but she already loved the baby and refused to abandon it. The hospital took her to a local shelter where they taught her to care for the baby. But when the government funding for this shelter was cut it had to close and Anita had nowhere to go with her tiny baby.
Thankfully, she remembered someone telling her about House of Joy, a Freedom Challenge-supported project in Kosovo that provides shelter for vulnerable young women, many of whom are fleeing domestic violence or have been rescued from traffickers.
Part of a new family
With just a tiny shred of hope left, Anita got a taxi from the shelter to the House of Joy. The staff were surprised to see a teenage girl with a tiny baby in her arms standing on the doorstep but Anita and her baby were warmly welcomed in and have been part of the House of Joy family ever since.
Anita is doing incredibly well. Her baby has given her the motivation to really change her life around and commit to everything that the program at House of Joy has to offer. She is determined to give her daughter a better life than her own. She is studying hard and hopes to finish her school exams and then to continue her education.
House of Joy is a real family for her; the staff and other residents love her, and she knows she has a home there.
There are so many girls like Anita in Kosovo, trapped in a cycle of abuse and rejection. House of Joy is the only long-term reintegration center in the country.
*Name changed to protect identity