As part of our outreach program we have begun to work with Vision of Hope, a residential centre for girls who live and work on the street in John Howard Compound, Southern Lusaka. Every Tuesday the Lubuto outreach team visits Vision of Hope and engage the girls there in LubutoStorytime and LubutoMentoring.
I have encountered girls on street visits before, but nothing had really prepared me for the vulnerability of the young women we meet at Vision of Hope. Several of them are only teenagers but have one or two small children to care for. Some of the girls are under legal protection due to abuse cases and cannot leave the grounds of the centre for fear of being attacked. Although, like all the children we meet in the Lubuto Libraries, they put on a smile, it is clear that these girls have suffered some terrible traumas. They can be shy and are sometimes slow to contribute verbally to the sessions, but they are obviously listening intently.
So the visits from the Lubuto team are hugely important. Vision of Hope does not have a Lubuto Library, or indeed any library, so having access to the books that we bring with us is a great bonus to them. Every time we go, I take a small selection to leave there for the week, and the staff are as excited as the girls to see the new books! One of the carers was particularly excited to read Gugu’s House last week, because it reminded her of her childhood. She then had a long conversation with the girls about what it was like for her growing up in a village. Our aim is that we will eventually be able to bring the girls into one of the Lubuto libraries so that they can access all of our services independently.
I haven’t got any photos to post as yet, because I felt that the girls are not yet confident enough to get my camera out – but I am sure that they will become more assured around us as we develop a relationship with them, and will look forward to blogging more updates!