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Saturday, February 25, 2012

I am going to call her Little Miss Red Shoes, because she reminded me so much of the young girl Heidi dubbed Little Miss Polkadots. I'm sure I'll get some flak because I am posting her picture here, and I do so soberly and with thought. I could black out her eyes or distort her face in some way. But I want her to be seen as she is: a diminutive nine year old, looking alone on a stool in the casualty department, brave, patient. Not something other, something veiled. A real little girl who bravely told her story today. It is not a happy story, and so feel free to stop reading here. Many lives are not rated G. Little Miss Red Shoes goes to school with her friends. She's in second grade. She lives with her mother and an aunt. Her father left the family years ago, though she thinks she saw him sometime in the last year. Her mom is HIV positive on treatment, sells little bits of beans and corn for a living, and often turns to the local church for assistance. Little Miss Red Shoes lives about a kilometer from me, in a community full of hospital workers and dedicated Christians. But that did not protect her, or at least five friends she could name including one girl in nursery school, from being raped three times in the last year by two teenage neighbor boys.

One of whom was her cousin. She's been lured into a home to run an errand, locked in a room when her mom was away, grabbed and forced. The boys gave her 20 shillings once, and 5 shillings another time (a few pennies), which probably made her feel even more violated. She sits kicking her red shoes back and forth, fingering a muffin into crumbs, quietly telling her story, restlessly, slowly. She and her friends have all been beaten by parents for reporting such stories. Last night, though, when she told her mom again, her mother saw the soiled clothes and heard her sobbing, and believed her, and stormed out to confront her sister's teenage son. Who did not deny it. And shorty afterward the mom's sister, the perpetrator's mother, the victim's aunt . . . showed up at Little Miss Red Shoe's house and beat her again. To keep her quiet.

But this time she was not quiet. She and her mother reported to the police, and then the hospital. The MO, who is a gentle, careful young woman, and I coaxed enough of the story out to be outraged, and then got a pastoral counselor, a community pillar, a respected grandmotherly type from the church to come and listen. Just the person we needed, who will mobilize reaction even if the police do not. We sent off tests and filled out reports. We listed the names and classes of the other girls, so they can all be drawn in by this lady for counseling.

The raping 15-year-old boy is in custody, but his family is well off, and likely to sway the police in their favor. They followed Little Miss Red Shoes and her mother to the hospital and tried to convince the senior nurse not to pursue the case. Instead he helped me arrange for a security escort to bring the report safely back to the police.

I grieve deeply that any nine-year-old girl should live in fear of her own relatives and neighbors. Should have her tiny innocent body violated. She wanted us to give her medicine that she could take so the boys would leave her alone. Her world is not safe. Her mother is thinking of sending her away to live with another relative, so she won't have to see this boy at school.

It is easy to think that such stories are rare, or exaggerated, or distant. But this one was real, and matter-of-fact, and right in our neighborhood.

So tonight please pray for JUSTICE, for Little Miss Red Shoes and the countless little African girls (and others all over the world) who are raped, beaten, blamed, sold. Lord have mercy on them.


Jill Donnelly said...

My own nine year old has shoes almost like those red ones. I will pray for this situation and for justice. Lord have mercy on the boys. May they learn and repent and rise up and teach others the value of each person in God's eyes.

Anne said...

Thank you for telling this story. Lord have mercy on us all.

K said...

That is the bravest girl I have ever seen. Thanks for telling us her story. Praying for justice, and healing and redemption for those young girls.

Heidi said...

dang. this brought all the tears back, and the anger and the sadness. Reminding me to pray for both Little Miss' and that God's grace and mercy might redeem both of their stories, and that His perfect love for them might be oh so close.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling her story. No words can respond properly to this... but thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am praying for her. What a terrible thing and what injustice there is. Thank God for her bravery to come forward.

Joia said...

Wow. What an incredibly sad story. Praise God for the Kijabe hospital and for you and others who are there to serve the people in such need.

This is my first time visiting your blog. I live in Florida, but my husband, Philip, and I actually visited Kijabe for a month in the spring of 2010 with our two children. Philip is a doctor and worked in the hospital. Not sure if he met you guys or not (Philip Dooley). His dad is Dan Dooley, who lives there in Kijabe and you may know.

We also know the Saunders, who we became friends with when we were there.

Anyway, so glad to have found out about your blog, I will definitely keep reading!

God Bless you both!

Joia Dooley