Bella was only a young girl when she came to live at IGF. She was already attending IGF’s Amida primary school when teachers discovered that she was living in an environment of severe abuse and neglect at the hands of her relatives who were her primary caregivers. Bella didn’t know her mother until she was much older, as her parents took off when she was very young, leaving her behind with relatives.
“My mother’s family had been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day,” Bella recalls. “They used to whip me with a mango tree branch and sometimes wire until the neighbours would come to stop them… I never dared speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped again.”
Between the beatings, periods of going without food, and being locked out of her home overnight from the time she was five years old, Bella became desperate for a way out. In 2007 when she was enrolled for Primary Five at IGF’s Amida primary school, it didn’t take long for the teachers to notice that Bella was sad and withdrawn. “I used to worry that the teachers wouldn’t believe what I was saying and wouldn’t trust it to be true. I didn’t tell them everything at first. But as time went on, I began to trust them more and more and realised they really did have my best interests at heart.”
Bella came to stay in IGF’s residential facilities where she finished primary school, and was then supported by IGF and her sponsor in Australia to study catering.
Bella is currently working as a cook in IGF’s guesthouse to gain more experience and earn a small income. She is also the single mother to a beautiful young son who is now 2 years old.
When her son is a little older, Bella, will be supported back to school to enhance her catering and hospitality qualifications further.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of positive adult influence in my life, but now, I have some amazing mentors. They have encouraged me that I could do and be anything that I wanted, that I have talent and ambition, and I am going to do great things” – Bella.
IGF works with the local authorities to recue children being abused or neglected in the local community. IGF’s residential care facilities (Hope Children’s Home) provides a safe place for up to 50 at-risk children to live and attend school. IGF and local authorities work together with the children and their families, and seek to reintegrate children back with family or relatives if possible. There are unfortunately some situations where it is not safe for a child to return home, and those children are welcomed into the IGF family long-term.