On September 16th at approximately 5:00 p.m. Lizzie Musonda drew her last breath and went to be with the Lord.
She was poor. She lived in a mud hut. Both parents are alcoholics. She died of AIDS-related tuberculosis. She was abused sexually. Badly abused. The women who prepared her body for burial were weeping as they witnessed the extent of abuse this little girl had to endure.
She was 14.
Even though this is a description of Lizzie Musonda’s life, it is a profile that is common to many young girls in Zambia today. Who will stand in the gap for them? If you think I’m being melodramatic, then perhaps you should just stop reading this post. I’m angry, upset, but overall sad. My heart aches for all the “Lizzie Musondas” in the world.
Let me back up a bit. Lizzie was a student at Lifesong Harmony School. She was sponsored by a donor overseas. This gave Lizzie the opportunity to be prayed for, fed, educated, and also gave her a few hours of reprieve from the torture that she endured outside of the school walls. Now I understand why they often find the school property to be a sanctuary. Life is not easy for these young ones. Her life in particular was very difficult. She lived across the street from the school in a mud hut with her father, brothers, and sisters. Lizzie came to school faithfully, a bright young student, who often did so well that she would be rewarded with gifts at the end of the term. Tears fill my eyes as I think about this young girl’s fate. In some ways I think I failed her. My mind tells me that I could not have known that she was going through this – it is culturally unacceptable to come forward with this issue – but surely something could have been done! Sadly, more often than not, fathers and step-fathers abuse the young daughters, and the mothers (who know full well that this is happening) keep quiet because they are desperate. They know that if they expose their husbands, they will be thrown out of the home, onto the street and left to die (Zambia doesn’t have any government-funded programs for abused women and children). So they bear this burden, this terrible, dark secret, in silence. They frighten the abused girl into not telling anyone for fear of disgracing the family.
At the school this past week, young girls (as young as 9) are coming forward and speaking out about what’s happening at home. We cannot stand idly by. Action must be taken. A home must be provided, a sanctuary, a refuge, so that they are no longer exposed or subjected to this type of treatment. Dennis has been meeting with countless homeowners, and real estate agents, who have homes up for sale. Please partner with us in whatever capacity you are comfortable with (we need prayer, financial support and a lot of wisdom) as we strive to purchase a property and convert it into a girls’ home. Please shoulder this burden with us and pray that we find a house, and a house mother who will show kindness, gentleness, and impart wise counsel to the girls.
Could it be that poor Lizzie’s death will bring about the change and freedom for other girls who experience the same fate as she did? Can beauty rise from ashes?