Restored lives restoring lives
Three young women who found faith and purpose at a Brazilian safe house are now mentoring other young girls at risk
ReVive, founded by CMS mission partners Andy and Rose Roberts, opened its first safe house for girls suffering from abuse or exploitation in Olinda, Brazil in 2014. Now three of those girls have returned to work at ReVive. Joyce, Bela and Ana shared their stories with Andy.
Ana: I remember we arrived on a rainy evening and it was all very new. It was complicated at the time because I didn’t really know what was happening. I created a lot of defence mechanisms. I was pretty aggressive at the beginning.
I remember it dawning on me that I wasn’t going back to a family, that I was going to be here for a while. I remember throwing a bag of books out of frustration! But there was a gradual process of chatting with the staff, especially the therapy sessions with the psychologists. I was able to talk about all that I’d gone through – the aggressions, both physical and verbal – and realised that being aggressive to those around me was a way of expressing that.
Joyce: As soon as I arrived here I felt a real peace. Even though Ana was really upset, I knew it was going to be the best place for us. Everything that happened was really good.
Bela: I remember who was on shift the day that I arrived and I remember Joyce being the first person to greet me. I remember not caring about much and not wanting to get involved with anything. I was a bit suspicious, but with time I started to open up and to trust the staff. I began to accept their advice, to recognise my errors and to make friends.
Ana: I remember being very happy. I remember that you never gave up on me. Even on my worst days or in my most aggressive moments – hitting walls, kicking things, dislocating fingers – when no one could stand me, you guys never gave up faith in me. My psychologist talked to me about how to get better, and told me I’d need a lot of people supporting me.
I remember you telling me off about something and we had an argument. Then I told you that I wanted to be a mirror of good things to the other girls and not of bad things. It was that strength of character that made me who I am today.
Joyce: I really enjoyed being able to talk to all the staff. It’s very different now being a responsible adult! I realise now how much you were all trying to prepare us for what was to come through all the activities and courses – so many opportunities which we would never have received in other places.
Coming back to ReVive
Ana: I was at school when Elise (ReVive’s coordinator) called me, but I missed it. I called her back straight away and she told me that there was an opportunity to be back at ReVive as a young apprentice. I didn’t think twice and started jumping around the school, I was so happy!
As an apprentice, I’ve realised how much work behind the scenes there actually is! I used to think that you guys didn’t do anything in the office but now I know. I’ve learned so much doing the admin, the kids’ legal processes – so many things.
Andy: I remember that during your time at ReVive you told me that one day you would work here and be one of the educators. Now you’ve completed your 18 months as an apprentice, I hear that you’ve been offered a job and your prediction has come true!
Ana: Yes, I’m so happy! When Rose and Elise called me into the office, I thought they were going to tell me off. But then Rose told me about the vacancy and asked if I’d like to be an educator. I started to cry because I’m so grateful – you guys have been with me through the ups and downs. With my experience of being a kid at ReVive, I’m sure I can help the current girls to show them what is possible, with God, with our own strength and that there is light in the darkness. That they can be more than they can imagine and can achieve their dreams.
Bela: I was having lunch with my aunt when Elise got in touch. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it. I was really nervous – it’s my first job. I never imagined you would want me back after some of the stuff I did here when I was younger. Like Ana said, I’m just so grateful. I was really rebellious, but this opportunity has changed so many things. I didn’t make the most of some of the opportunities when I was younger, but I’m going to make the most of this one!
Joyce: Coming back has been great and strange. I remember praying when I was younger – I wanted God to bring me back here one day as a volunteer or as a member of staff. I spent four years praying for this and asking God for it, to be able to give back all that I’ve received here. So, when I received your message asking for my CV and to go through the selection process I was so nervous… and then so happy when Elise told me that I’d passed and had the job offer. Over time I’ve realised that I have something the other staff don’t – I know what it is like to be a girl at ReVive.