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Two Girls

October 25, 2011

From the Field

If you could walk with me past the city limits, beyond the rice fields, and further than even the hill-tribe village, I would take you up a steep and deeply rutted road on the slope of the wooded mountainside where we found two girls living together, as sisters more than friends. Their history, including why two friends live together, involves abuse. Abandonment. Alcoholism. They are each other’s sanctuary, and with one of the girl’s father, they found a home deep in the woods.

No one lived up there – save for these two girls and one father.

There were ramshackle houses, made of scrap wood slatted together, but they had all long been abandoned. The makeshift family had retreated so far from civilization, for there, they were too far away to need pay rent. There was no electricity, so the inside of the house was enveloped in darkness. They had to cook by daylight – dinners consisting only of rice and chicken broth – or be forced to waste money on fuel for lanterns. A clothesline hung limply by the front door, strung with clothes that would never be quite clean. A lonely tap provided water of undrinkable quality, and a treacherously slippery, algae-covered path led away to an outhouse.

The father walked an hour twice a day to beg for work in the rice fields. Some days he worked. Some days he didn’t. The girls walked a half-hour to school, down the mountain, and a half-hour back up, every day.

When we discovered their situation, we decided it was untenable. The father would be gone until late in the evening, leaving these two girls entirely alone, fending for themselves, and with no one to protect them. The girls were barely 10 and 12 years of age.

So we took them under SOLD’s wing, and found them a place to stay next door to one of our staff so we could check on them. We provided a small stipend for rent and essentials (available to them until we can find sponsors).

They jumped at the chance to escape the woods, and the girls would only have a short walk to school.

But then the father fell ill. He was admitted into the hospital where they discovered he had kidney stones. They operated…and then several organs failed. He has been in the hospital for over a month now, awaiting extra surgery.

In the meantime, the girls go visit him in the hospital at every opportunity to catch a ride into town. The eldest helps the father understand what the doctors have to say about his condition and what medical procedures are required. She helps him bathe and relieve himself. And at home they both are responsible for buying and cooking their food and they clean their own clothes.

These girls are 10 and 12 years of age and this is the face of their poverty. All SOLD’s children face impoverished circumstances to varying degree and we try to find scholarships to give them a chance for something better. But sometimes, situations are so dire we cannot wait. The SOLD Project acts first, then asks for scholarship help later, because sometimes we find children on the brink.

But these girls taught us something too. They showed us that not all on the brink are victims. Some are survivors and they bear an indomitable strength.

Our job is to make sure they no longer have to carry the weight alone.

By Jade Keller, SOLD’s Education Manager

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2011 10:27 am

    Good post. Thank you, Jade.

  2. Heather C permalink
    October 25, 2011 1:17 pm

    Jade, thank you so much for sharing. This is really, really lovely.

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