A Safe Place to Stay

May 12, 2016 • Liberia
Liberia safe home

Samaritan’s Purse finds a young girl in need of healing and a safe home

Delyse Lawless is the assistant sector manager for child protection for Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia.

When Patience* was carried off of the airplane, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The wheelchair seemed to swallow her whole. No one could believe she was 12—her body was that of a 5-year-old. She faced down, afraid to look anyone in the eyes, ashamed of what she had become. Her arms and legs were frail, as though with the slightest bump she would shatter.

I watched helplessly as other Samaritan’s Purse staff members took her to the hospital. It would be the third one she had visited. She was bleeding internally, hemorrhaging from being raped, needing multiple blood transfusions. Her body was failing inside and out and had become anemic from the delay in response. Her situation looked hopeless.

1637LR - Liberia Post Ebola Update

Patience with Samaritan’s Purse staff member Joni Byker at the safe home.

I wondered what kind of person would rape this little girl and how her situation became so dire before anyone took action. As she was loaded into the ambulance, all we could do is pray for a miracle. Her life was in God’s hands.

When she arrived at the first hospital in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, the doctors were unable to help and immediately sent her to a fourth hospital. Her body was so small and malnourished that everyone was afraid to operate to stop the bleeding. The rape had occurred more than a month ago when a boy from another village had followed her home.

“When Patience was raped, she became seriously ill,” her mother said. “But I did not know that Patience was raped because the child refused to tell me because the perpetrator said she would die [if she told].”

Alone and afraid, Patience isolated herself and kept her secret. Her body gradually became weaker until she could no longer hide the pain. Her mother took her to church to receive prayers, where Patience told the pastor what had happened to her. The pastor told her mother, and her mother told her uncle. Her uncle reported the case to the police, who got in touch with Samaritan’s Purse, and a team was finally able to go to Patience’s village and take her to a nearby hospital.

The fourth hospital kept her for more than a month. No one would operate, but they wouldn’t release her either. Day after day she suffered—attacked by mosquitos with no mosquito net protection; examined by doctor after doctor, making her feel continuously violated; isolated in the sexual and gender-based violence ward with no one else to talk to; and given various drugs and six blood transfusions with the hope of sparing her life. Samaritan’s Purse had been praying for her, and our team had been working around the clock to figure out what to do.

1637LR - Liberia Post Ebola Update

Ma B runs the safe home where Patience is staying.

Then, by the grace of God, she started getting better. The bleeding miraculously stopped, and her appetite returned. With life pumping back into her veins, the hospital released her, and Samaritan’s Purse was able to transfer her to a fifth hospital—one that specializes in women’s health. She received a final examination, this time under anesthesia so she no longer had to feel violated, and received the news she had been longing to hear—she no longer had to stay at any hospitals.

An Encouraging Place to Live

Moving from the hospital to the safe home was a pivotal day in Patience’s life. On a day close to Christmas, Samaritan’s Purse packed her bags and a box full of food made specifically for malnourished children and headed for the airport.

Once she arrived at the safe home, she had nourishing food to eat and grow strong, girls her age to play with, and an opportunity to attend school. In her remote village, she had never been able to go to school. She now has a constant smile on her face, speaks a bit of English, and is a joy to be around. She has gained weight and is no longer dangerously malnourished. She sings and dances and enjoys life. She has her own picture Bible, goes to church with the safe home manager, and sings constant songs of praise.

“I’m very happy and grateful,” her mother said when she visited Patience at the safe home. “They have been praying and using the Word of God for encouragement.”

1637LR - Liberia Post Ebola Update

Ma B studies the Bible with three girls and women staying at the safe home.

Because Patience’s mother lives far from the safe home, she is only able to visit every couple of months. She’s thrilled to see Patience healthy and happy. Although she misses her daughter, she’s not ready for her to return home. Her perpetrator has yet to be arrested, and she doesn’t have an opportunity to attend school at home. Her mother is her only guardian because Patience doesn’t have a father or any grandparents. For now, she said Patience is better off at the safe home.

Patience’s life was saved and has been changed thanks to God’s grace. We praise God for using Samaritan’s Purse to identify needs, counsel those who have been hurt, and lead those who have no direction. Without Samaritan’s Purse, Patience’s life would have ended. She can now grow up to be a strong woman who knows the Lord has saved her.

*Name changed to protect identity