Abandoned by her mother and ignored by her alcoholic father, Tessa’s* earliest memories are of regular beatings. She was forced to help her father harvest drugs. If she refused, the violence escalated. One day Tessa was lying on the ground attempting to recover from a severe beating when her father hit her head with a machete. The scar will be with her forever.
Tessa was sent to live with her grandparents, a new village and a change of scenery. But the violence and abuse didn’t change. Her grandmother would get drunk on a regular basis and beat her. There was little food and no money for Tessa to attend school.
Looking to satisfy her hunger, Tessa began to harvest grass in the bush, making brooms and carrying them to town to sell for food. People would ask why she carried such a heavy load all by herself, but no-one intervened. She found other young street children like her, they would play in the dirt and forage for food together. One day, Tessa was toking some fish they had caught when a group of unknown adults approached her. Luckily for Tessa, these people were Hope St. social workers. However the story of her rescue highlights how easily this vulnerable child could have been taken in by child-traffickers.
Today, Tessa is full of hope. She wants to become a nurse or a teacher and is very much enjoying school. The Hope St. team have re-engaged with her grandparents, who have been going to church and been sober for over a year. If this rehabilitation continues, Tessa may be able to live with them once again in a loving, healthy family environment.
*Name changed for privacy purposes.