June 6th 2012
“He has no words to describe his gratitude.”
Gibozi, our director at YouthCare Ministries, compassionately stared at the sickly man and waited for another utterance. None came. “He just thanks God that his daughter Ester now has a safe place to live.”
Ester started living at the new SafeHaven for girls a few months ago—a new residential program for girls who were living on the streets in Lilongwe. Her mother died two years ago, her father is sick with 7 children for whom he cannot provide. His youngest, Ester, was losing her way.
In Malawi there is no safety net when you get ill. There are no social workers who arrive at your home to assess the situation, offer solutions, and find options for your children. A sick parent means no work. No work means no food, no school, and no future. A 10-year-old girl, like Ester, is left to fend for herself.
Because of their long, trusted history in the community, YouthCare has become known as a highly respected ministry. When Ester’s need surfaced in the community, YouthCare workers were notified. Ester now has a home.
The new girls’ SafeHaven is a beautiful, four bedroom house has been transformed into an oasis of love and care for 5 girls between the ages of 10 and 17. With three meals a day, a clean bed, adult supervision, and a chance to go to school the girls are already thriving in their new environment.
I am reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow argued that the most essential human need was security and certainty. Only when we feel secure, can we really begin to grow in the other dimensions of life. One of my friends describes it like a flower pot. In order for a plant to grow, it needs a pot—a pot without cracks and holes. You can have a beautiful flower, you can have a good earth, but if you don’t have a pot none of it matters. Children are the same. Give a child a little structure, consistent food, and safety and…..watch them grow.