Just Hope Hero: Sofia, Abuse Survivor, Wants to Help Others

April 13, 2017

Dominican Republic, Survival Skills Student

When Sofia was 13, she and her sister were taken to an orphanage by the national adoption authority in the Dominican Republic. The girls’ mother moved away when Sofia was 8 and they were left to live with their stepfather. For five years, the girls were abused, often locked in the house alone and were not attending school. Finally, a concerned neighbor reported the abusive stepfather and the girls were removed from the home.

Sofia didn’t return to school until she came to the orphanage. After losing five years of education, she was so far behind that she had to re-enter several grades lower than her peers. She was tormented by other students, which made it hard to learn and hurt her self-confidence. But, when a school was built at the orphanage, her teachers worked with her to get her caught up.

She is now 17, a young woman who has matured greatly since coming to the orphanage. After four years in a safe and stable environment, she has become responsible, friendly, studious and dedicated to making a future for herself. She enjoys reading, listening to music and playing soccer, and she has high aptitude for math.

As she prepares to graduate and leave the orphanage, Sofia is learning real-world Survival Skills through the Just Hope program. After participating in the program for several months, her teacher, Joanna Henriquez, said, “She is one of the most attentive in her Survival Skills class and always does her homework.”

Joanna said the lesson that has most inspired Sofia was the unit on occupations available to them as adults. She also was deeply engaged in the lesson about handling your own money, which included a detailed exploration of the cost of living, including rent, groceries, clothing, utilities and healthcare.

“Sofia will be leaving the orphanage at some time in the next year, so we are eager to prepare her as well and quickly as possible, so that when the time comes, she is ready to live independently as an adult,” Joanna said.

“I’ve been through a lot of difficult things, but I think all of it has been for a purpose,” Sofia said. ”I would like to study sociology and nursing in college, and enter a profession that allows me to help others. I ask God to help me achieve this goal.”

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