Loved at last

Anea's story is one of abandonment, misuse, tragedy and hurt. But through OM in Kosovo's House of Joy programme, she has found hope for her, and her daughter's, future.

Anea's parents abandoned her when she was five. Although she was taken in by a grandparent, the rejection affected her deeply as she felt that the very people who should have protected, loved and cherished her would have nothing to do with her.

As a teenager trying to negotiate life without a parent's guidance, she fell in with the wrong crowd. They trafficked her and Anea was sold for sex repeatedly. When she first met an OM worker two years ago, she was in despair, but not yet willing to take radical steps to change her life.

Then she got pregnant. Anea was living with the father of the baby, but when she told him she was pregnant, he said he had never loved her and was engaged to someone in Western Europe. He said that his fiance had found out about Anea and was sending her brothers to kill her and that she could stay with him until the baby was born, but then was it. When Anea's water broke, he threw her out of the house and told her never to come back. He refused to take her to hospital, so, in desperation, Anea called a taxi.

With a new baby in her arms, Anea's choices were stark. Her grandparents had said she could come back, but only if she gave the baby to an orphanage. The alternative, so Anea thought, was homelessness; but she already loved the baby and refused to abandon it. The hospital took her to a local shelter where they taught her to care for the baby. When the government cut funding to the shelter it was suddenly closed. Again, Anea had nowhere to go with her tiny baby.

She got a taxi from the shelter to House of Joy. The staff were surprised to see a teenage girl with a tiny baby in her arms standing on the doorstep. Anea and her baby have been part of the House of Joy family ever since.

Anea's baby has given her the motivation to really change her life around and commit to everything that the programme at House of Joy has to offer. Anea is determined to give her daughter a better life than her own. She is studying hard and hopes to finish her school exams and continue in education. She knows that the House of Joy is a real family; they love her, and she has a home with them.

There are so many girls like Anea in Kosovo, trapped in a cycle of abuse and rejection. House of Joy is the only long-term reintegration centre in the country. Thanks to your prayers and support, it is able to continue to offer hope to those who are in such desperate need.

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