We drove through the busy Kampala streets, full of shops with hand painted signs, motorbikes and minibuses everywhere, and people buying, selling, walking, talking.
We arrived at a small building with a little verandah and plastic chairs set out to welcome the visitors. This was the day centre for Rahab Ministries, an organisation that helps girls leave prostitution. Girls. Not women. It hardly bears thinking about, but I force myself to think about it, realise the strength and determination it has taken these beautiful girls to walk another path.
We’re introduced to the aims of the organisation, the staff, the volunteers, and then the girls. The girl that had been picked to present about the home is in the hospital, having given birth to her baby that very morning. So another girl has been selected, last minute, to represent her sisters to this group of international visitors.
She stands up and introduces herself. Her name is Fiona. She is beautiful, a gorgeous smile and wearing bold and striking red. As soon as the officially presentations are over, I make a beeline for her. My name is Fiona too! A smile spreads across her face and she pulls me into a tight hug. And then we stand in that little courtyard and talk, not letting go of each other.
She tells me that, thanks to Rahab, she has finished school top of her class. She’s now studying accountancy at University. She is proud and strong and I am totally in love with her.
The girls show us around the day centre where they make jewellery and take classes in cooking and crafts. The staff and volunteers do outreach into the surrounding communities every week, supporting these young girls who’ve had the hardest start in life to make a new beginning and reclaim their girlhood. Their mission is to restore the self image of girls affected by sexual exploitation and empower them for personal and community transformation. There’s little as important as this.
I won’t quickly forget my Ugandan namesake. She inspired me with her courage and determination and I hope to be like her one day.
This story is part of my series remembering our trip to Uganda and Burundi earlier this month. We visited Rahab Ministries as part of the Amahoro Gathering. If you want to learn more, you can visit their website.