On the morning of the Saturday that I launched my JEXIT Countdown, I met a rape victim.
At first, I didn’t know that. She had come the morning before to interview to volunteer here. However, she speaks almost no English so I had asked her to return the next morning when the girl who lives here would be around all day and therefore could interview her. I told her to come at around 9 am. She showed up just before 8 am on a bike taxi. I was a little annoyed because she disturbed my usual focussed morning alone time, but I tamped down the annoyance and instead decided to appreciate the fact that she was so committed to helping out here that she showed up an hour early and be willing to sit and wait until the appointed time. After a few minutes of waiting, she left her things here and briefly went off to find something to eat.
I only met her in passing on both occasions, but both times she seemed a little weird to me. She seemed a little spaced out and she stared blankly quite a bit, so I wondered if she was maybe not all there or if maybe she had some kind of mental disability. But I didn’t think too much about it and left if to the girl to interview her and see if she was a fit influence to have around the kids who come here.
After she left by Uber car (there’s Uber bike here too, hence the differentiation), the girl who lives here came and asked me what I thought of her. I gave her my first impression of the young woman’s spaciness but also my appreciation of the fact that she showed up early and was willing to wait. It was then that she gave me the story.
Just 3 months before, the young woman had been raped. She was walking alone when she was attacked. She’s now in therapy and on medication, which is what causes her to be so spacey, although she still functions OK in daily activities. She has thrown herself into volunteering, helping street kids in another part of the city, making and selling cakes and other little treats to raise money to buy art supplies that she uses in her work with them. She has started her own little movement with her friends to help disadvantaged kids, and she volunteers doing different things like that almost every day of the week.
When I looked at her qualifications and documentation that she left here with us, I saw certificate after certificate of participation in courses and appreciation for things that she has done. But I also saw pictures of a beautiful, modestly dressed young woman who didn’t wear hijab. Now, she swathes herself from head to toe, wearing a headscarf and baggy clothes.
I doubled over in pain. I literally sat there in my usual spot on the bench on the front stoop and I bent over holding my belly as pain shot through me, while the girl told me about the young woman’s ordeal and how honoured she felt to have the opportunity to meet her. As she told me more of young woman’s story, I thought about the horror that she had endured just 3 months before. Then I thought about how she had arrived on the back on a bike taxi that morning, riding behind a strange man. I thought about how she had walked off alone for a few minutes to go get herself some breakfast. I thought about her leaving in the Uber car, again with a strange man. And finally I thought about the spaced out look on her face. It was too much and I covered my face with my hands as tears started leaking from my eyes.
She is the bravest woman that I have ever personally met. I cannot imagine the courage that it takes for her to put her foot out of her front door alone on any given day. How deep does she have to dig in order to go about life as usual? What strength must it take for her to get on that bike or in that car with that strange man, or to walk off alone to go get something to eat? And still she gets up every day and thinks, “I want to help someone else today.” She may very well be trying to bury her pain in service to others, but the fact that she can be functioning as she is and thinking of others at this point her in recovery is absolutely remarkable to me.
After a few minutes, I dried my tears of sorrow for what she had gone through and my tears of admiration for her strength, and I thanked God for also giving me the opportunity to meet this young woman. She has endured every woman’s nightmare, the thing that no female should ever have to go through, and she’s doing her best to find her way through the aftermath of that destruction.
He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. Revelation 21:4a (GNT)