For the past few weeks I’ve been working on a grant application to the Italian Bishops Conference for the Laura Vicuna Center run by the Sisters. I think I mentioned it in my very first blog post- it’s a home for girls who have been victims of sexual abuse. It’s a really sad situation, a few years ago there was a fire and the building is in desperate need to be rebuilt. For years they have wanted to do so but there has never been enough money. There are about 20 girls living there with the Sisters and they are definitely short on space. Even if there are referrals, due to the lack of space the center simply cannot accept any more girls. As I was working on the proposal Sr. Jojo told me about how for many of the girls the fathers were the abusers with the mothers blaming the girls for being “flirts” who caused the abuse through their own behaviour. As a result a lot of the girls end up being severely traumatized and need to be removed from their family situation. The goal of the center is to ensure the welfare of the young girls in a safe environment where they can ultimately be reintegrated into society.
On Wednesday I was finally able to visit the center and meet the girls! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the girls were so sweet! They performed a few dance routines and then we sang karaoke! You would never have thought they were victims of such abuse. Though during karaoke one of the girls started crying because some of the pictures on the screen reminded her of home and how she missed her mother. It was really sad! I think her dad (the abuser) is still living with her mum so it’s not safe for her to go home. There were a few really young girls there too- I asked one of the Sisters and she said the three youngest (aged 7, 8 and 9) were actually sisters who started living at the center a year ago. It makes me so mad that such young girls had to be subjected to that! I really hope that the grant gets approved and the center can finally be rebuilt. I took some photos during my visit, but due to privacy reasons I can’t post them online. Please keep the center and the girls in your prayers!