Saturday, May 24, 2014

The little girl with a lot of courage

   It was a bright, al fresco morning when the stepfather walked into the front office at school.
   Almost immediately, my coworkers began questioning him in Sesotho.
   He was being accused of sexually abusing his stepdaughter, a student at the school who lived in a nearby village.
   She told teachers he allegedly got drunk and tried to molest her the night before. She ran to her chief’s house. He did nothing to help.
   The man denied his stepdaughter’s account. Teachers listened. Took notes. Then they summoned the chief (not the one the girl originally asked for help.)
   The chief marched into the office with three villagers. His black and white dog stood guard at the front door. He listened to the stepfather’s account. Took notes.
   Teachers then summoned the girl. She walked in, barefoot, took a seat on a small wooden bench in the corner of the office. She sat up straight in the glare of nearly a dozen eyes beaming on her tiny frame.  She looked her stepfather in the eyes and gave her account.
   In Sesotho, she told him that he allegedly try to molest her.
   The chief listened. Took notes. Nodded his head.
   Afterward, she left to finish playing with her friends.
   The chief’s helpers tied up the man with a dirty, green rope and walked him to the village meeting place, where he was mocked by villagers.
   What struck me about this incident was the little girl’s strength. She spoke up against her abuser. To his face. What a difficult thing to do. 
   Ultimately, this little girl ended up attending a different school and village for safety and security purposes. I think of her often and pray for her. I’ll never forget her courage and conviction.
   She is my hero. She is a lion. She is a little girl with a whole lot of courage.

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