Young girls in Kenya find friendship and safety in Kids Alive school programs
Young girls in Kenya find friendship and safety in Kids Alive school programs

Love looks like protecting a childhood

A courageous team in Kenya is working with community leaders to prevent the child marriage of an 11-year old girl.

At age 11, Susan* found herself alone. Her mother had died, and her father was not in the home. We call these kids “lost kids” – children with no place to go, no family, no security, left to fend for themselves. This is when they are most vulnerable. They may be exploited for labor, abused, neglected, trafficked, sold into slavery or, often with very young girls, forced into marriage. These kids lose more than their childhood, they lose their options for escaping the cycle of poverty.

But God intervened when Susan found herself in a hospital. No one came to see her and there was no contact listed on her medical records. Susan was alone – until the Social Office got involved and called Kids Alive Kenya.

After several months of research, Kids Alive Kenya was successful in tracing Susan’s father, a night watchman and sometimes casual laborer, and reuniting the family. But an older man and some members of the community had other ideas. He wanted to marry Susan and the men of the community were pressuring the father to release his young daughter. Thankfully, through the reunification process, Susan’s father had grown to have other goals for her future. But he needed help.

So Kids Alive Kenya developed a plan to help secure Susan’s safety. An informal support team including a teacher we know and trust, the local government chief, Susan’s father, and even Susan herself all have vital roles to play.

They agree to these safety measures:

  • They will ensure that Susan is within eyesight of a trusted adult at all times (3 women neighbors have been identified as trusted). The teacher sends updates to Kids Alive staff often, and staff check in on Susan at home periodically.
  • If Susan ever feels threatened with abduction (which is a real fear), she is to immediately go to her teacher’s or chief’s place for safety
  • A quick dial to any of our staff cell phones will activate Kids Alive to immediately come to her rescue and formally report the danger to the police (child marriage is illegal in Kenya, even though it is still practiced in a number of communities).

The plan has been in place for four months. At the moment, there is no evidence of attempted abduction or forced marriage activities and Susan has remained safe and in school. The pressure on the father continues and he is feeling alienated among the men of the community because he will not release his daughter. We are continually reminded that these issues are complicated, and breaking the cycle of poverty is difficult and challenging work.

We would ask you to join Susan’s support network by praying for Susan, for her father, the network we have put around her, and all the other “Susans” Kids Alive is working with every day.

Help us be there for more girls like Susan:

*Name changed to protect privacy.