*Warning, some readers may find the content of this blog distressing.


Vivian was one of the first group of children to be registered at a Compassion project in Tanzania and her life, though modest, was good.

There was a time when Vivian had a family. When she and her sister were loved by their parents.

“I lived with my mum and my dad in a community . It's kind of a slum neighbourhood, but we were happy,” Vivian recalls.

“I remember my dad used to carry me on his neck and I loved it. My dad used to walk to the nearby ironsmithing community, so I went with him. My mum was a small businesswoman who sold food and clothes.”

One devastating night

But it all changed when Vivian’s parents died leaving them orphaned. The girls went to live with their aunt—it was an extremely difficult time.

“[My aunt] neglected us. She didn't provide enough food for us and sometimes went to sleep hungry.

“If we asked, would hit us and say horrible things like, ‘I don’t have food for you, I'm not your parent, I can't take care of every need that you have’.”

The two girls would have to go to other houses to ask for food. Their neighbour supported them and sometimes they went to the project to eat.

Homeless at 13

One night, when Vivian was 13 years old, Vivian’s aunt came home drunk. She beat her and her sister, then kicked them out of the house.

That night she said to the girls, “I don't care where you go, you can go anywhere, you can go and sleep on your parents’ grave, I don't care about that.”

In that desperate moment, there was one person who came to their aid. A maid who worked for her aunt took the sisters to Compassion’s local church partner that night.

“I remember it was so cold and we were crying because we didn't know where to go. We didn't know if the church could receive us,” Vivian recalls.

But the project's social worker was there. The Compassion project’s social worker called the pastor of the church and explained the situation, and asked if the girls could stay the night at the church. The pastor agreed. The next day the project worker, the church pastor and church leader approached Vivian’s aunt to see if she had changed her mind. She hadn’t.

Vivian and her sister were now homeless.

God’s people mobilise

Compassion’s church partner began searching for a home for Vivian and her sister. The project’s social worker agreed to take the two sisters into her home. Slowly, things began to change for Vivian and her sister. They started to receive the love and care they didn’t get from their aunt.

Vivian, now, with the social worker that took her and her sister in.

“We were able to eat, get a good place to sleep, have someone who we could talk to, someone who was there for us and concerned about our school performance, about our health, about everything that we needed,” Vivian says.

“She used to address me as her firstborn, so that gave me a sense of belonging. Maybe somewhere I have a family. I have someone who loves me. I have someone who looks to me and sees that I am valued and worthy.”

A life transformed

“If I wasn’t in the Compassion Programme I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Vivian.

“The death of my parents was the end of my life, but the programme was there to help me.”

Vivian was able to continue her studies and she began to excel.

“I did well in secondary school and was selected to join a university in another region. The social worker was there with me, to support me in this new adventure.”

“My young sister continued to stay with the social worker while I was studying.”

After three years, Vivian graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Protection. She ran her own small business for a while and is now working for Compassion Tanzania.

Vivian teaching at the Compassion centre in Tanzania.

“I know that I can stand by myself and I can be depended on by other people. I have two years of working experience [at Compassion Tanzania] now. And I'm thankful for that,” says Vivian.

Vivian is thankful for the Compassion programme.

“Through the programme, I understand myself. I know what I want to do. I know the dreams that I have, and I know how to go about them.”

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