Loneliness and Resilience
Editor’s note: Hogar Nuestra Casa, a home for girls who have experienced sexual abuse, is one of missioner Domonique Thompson’s ministry sites in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Reflecting on accompanying the girls through holidays like Christmas and Father’s Day, she recognizes how this ministry has expanded her understanding of both the impact of trauma and the power of resilience.
I spent Christmas Eve with the girls and while I thought that it would’ve been a great day to celebrate, it was filled with tears, sadness, and gratitude. I was certainly not prepared for the stories the girls would share next. The girls got to be together and talk openly about how they are feeling about this time and the season. It opened my eyes to the struggles and the feelings that each and every one of them has. The intensity of the feeling of abandonment. The loss of a mom and the abandonment of a mom are two different kinds of hurts. For some of them it was their first Christmas that they’ve spent with others who actually care about them.
“For all of my life I spent Christmas on the streets”
Some girls’ feelings of wanting a family is especially strong during this time. Walking through the streets looking at the lights and realizing that everyone around you is with their families and you think to yourself
“Wow, I want that”
The feeling of loneliness ran so deep. A feeling that I think most of us can relate to, more or less. In your teens, can you remember how unsure you were or how many times you ran to mom or dad when you couldn’t figure something out? Or even the feeling that no matter what happens, my mom and dad have my back? Or even someone to pick you up when you fall and just hug you and say everything’s going to be alright? I recognize that the tias are there and so are we, but there is a difference between a person showing up for a job and a parent that is there when you call at 4:30 am.
“I have no one”
Around the celebration of Día del Padre in Bolivia on March 19, I am reminded of that moment we shared with the girls on Christmas Eve. So much is buried underneath those smiles that I am ashamed to not notice at times. But these girls teach me so much about strength and courage,just by simply existing. In a lot of ways they’ve comforted me, and even though our circumstances may be different, they understand first hand what it’s like to go through pain, loss, and suffering.
“If my own parents don’t want me, who will?”
One of the girls, her name is Daira, is now in university. After her entire family abandoned and betrayed her, siding with her aggressor, going as far as lying and victim blaming in court, she is one of the kindest people I’ve met here. But as they say, the happiest people carry the deepest scars. She is studying to be a psychologist and while there are many hurdles to get there, including her immigration status, she perseveres.
While there are so many underlying traumas and emotions, these girls take it one day at a time, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I hope to be able to continue to accompany them through it all.
Question for reflection: In whom have you seen an example of resilience?