A young girl, forced into prostitution flees her brothel. In desperation she seeks shelter at a local church. She couldn’t have chosen a better place to run to.
Mabika village, where 17 year old Sizani lives, is a walkable distance from Gutu. People flock to Gutu in search of employment and a better life.
THE WORLD CAVES IN
Sizani did not find a better life in Gutu. She is the eldest child in a family of 3. Her parents died when she was 12. After that, she and her siblings lived with their grandmother in Mabika village.
After the death of her parents, 12 year old Sizani was left as the breadwinner, attempting to care for her elderly Grandmother and two brothers. She struggled, dropping out of school, and the family became more and more isolated as the community turned a blind eye to their poverty. They would go for days without food and Sizani grew very thin.
NOT MY NEIGHBOUR
At the age of 13, Sizani’s neighbour said he knew someone in Gutu who needed a maid. He lied. Instead of becoming a maid, Sizani was taken to brothel where she was forced to become a sex worker. She was kept prisoner, and with no one to turn to, she couldn’t even begin to imagine how to escape.
The situation grew worse and Sizani became very angry with God and the people around her. She fell ill but the brothel owner refused to let her seek treatment. She shared her story with one of her clients and he took her to the nearest clinic. Seizing her chance, she ran away.
RELEASED FROM PRISON
The church had been trained by a Tearfund partner called ZOE - Zimbabwe Orphans Through Extended Hands - to look after vulnerable children like Sizani. So not only did they love her with words; telling her she is precious, she is known; they also loved her with their actions. They paid for her to have proper medical care, and reunited her with her brothers. She went along to ZOE’s children’s club, where she could receive psychosocial support, helping to heal wounds left by her time in the brothel.
The church took me out of a prison.’ says Sizani ‘I felt like I was a slave, bound for life. I had lost hope, everyone I came across was evil. I used to be very bitter about everything. I used to ask God Why Me? The counselling I received from the pastor helped me a lot.’
They introduced her to other girls who had gone through similar experiences. It’s bittersweet realisation; Sizani is not alone - good, because she is not lonely, but bad, because that means she is not the only teenager who is also a former sex worker.
'The church took me out of a prison. I felt like I was a slave, bound for life.'
BEARING ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS
Now these girls have joined together to make sure they will be the last ones. Sizani says: ‘My desire now in life is to help other girls who are going through what I went through, not to lose hope but to trust God always. My pastor helped me to start a support group with my friends. We tell others not to be tricked by false promises of money and a better life.’
Sizani has lived through more than she should have done, but ZOE, the churches in the UK who support ZOE, her own church, and the girls around her, are joining together to help her to change her story.
ZOE is supported by Tearfund's Connected Church scheme. Find out how your church can become a Connected church.