Annabelle* is a 16-year-old girl who successfully passed the year nine national exams and will start year ten on Monday.
She has a bubbly personality and a lovely smile, and she enjoys helping and praying for others.
Annabelle’s mother was a schoolgirl when she became pregnant with her. Tragically, she passed away while giving birth to her. Because of the cultural shame, Annabelle’s family wanted nothing to do with her, so her aunt took her in. But when she was three, her aunt moved to Bujumbura and left her with a family friend.
By the age of five, Annabelle had experienced horrific mistreatment. The woman who took care of her would mistreat her at every opportunity, even wanting to kill her. “She once burned me with boiling water,” recalls Annabelle. “I was forced to sit in the kitchen with her while her kids were playing. She took the pot with boiling water and threw it at me. The water landed on my hands and feet. I remember screaming and spending days crying.”
“Not so long after I’d recovered from my burns, she took her kids to the farm and locked me inside the house alone. Moments later, some strange man, whom she had ordered to sexually abuse me came inside the house.”
Annabelle was taken to the hospital by neighbours, she spent days in a critical condition trying to recover from the ordeal. The hospital decided to take her to a children’s home, where she was among the first five kids of YFC’s Homes of Hope in Cibitoke, in northwestern Burundi.
It’s been 11 years since she arrived, and she is grateful for where God has put her. She has even found the strength to forgive the woman who took her in and the man who raped her.
She’s more than grateful to Homes of Hope for taking care of her and providing for her, and she hopes to become a physicist. But her other passion is in children’s ministry. She wants to be there for children who feel hopeless and who’ve been abused. She hopes they can find hope the way she has.
Homes of Hope provides a family atmosphere for orphaned children, and children who are rescued from difficult circumstances. Instead of large dormitories, they are placed in smaller homes with live-in foster parents. They receive quality education and get the opportunity to pursue their passions, as well as any support they may need in dealing with past traumas. Homes of Hope is a ministry of Burundi Youth for Christ.
*Name and Photo Changed