Worth Fighting For
With the opening of Hope for Life home came the miracle I’ve been waiting and praying for since 2008 when I first met the girl I now call, umtfwana wami. Since most of you reading have been following my Tenele story for the past few years, you all know how incredible it is that we were able to place Tenele and her baby girl, Lucia, in Hope for Life home! Tenele lives there with five other girls, a house mother, and my dear friend Christina Hostetter. Though the home was started because of her story, we weren’t initially planning on having her move into the home (since she had a baby) and because we thought her new placement at “home” with her real mother was going to be a success. Yet, the rollercoaster of her life continued as her mother didn’t want her. So we placed her into Hope for Life home, and for the first time in her life she’s been getting counseling for everything she’s been through over the course of her grim life. She confessed to the counselor that she believes everything that’s happened in her life is her fault (because that’s what she’s been told over and over again) and has no self-worth left. Who can blame her?
Just when things start going well…
We find out that Tenele is 7 months pregnant. Yes, SEVEN months pregnant. Fortunately, it’s from the same father of Lucia. When I first heard the news I was so frustrated because I knew this would make it difficult for Tenele to stay in the home and I figured people would use that as “proof” that she’s never going to change. I was upset at her, at the situation, at me, at God, at everything for awhile until I cried out the frustration. When I called and talked to Tenele one of the first things she said to me was, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… It was a mistake. I really do want to change my life. I do…” She kept apologizing and I simply said, “Tenele, there’s no need to apologize. You are pregnant, so we’ll move forward. That’s all there is to it. I love you no matter what.” This was exactly what she needed to hear and she proceeded to explain her situation to me.
I can’t help but continually break for that girl. She has been through hell on earth; yet, people still cast her aside. In fact, there are people involved in the girls home board in Swazi that want Tenele out of the home and don’t believe she belongs there. The argument is that girls like Tenele don’t change, they are bad examples and shouldn’t be in the home. She’s pregnant, and that’s not okay. While on the one hand, I can see where they are coming from, on the other they are only reinforcing what Tenele has been told all her life: she’s not worth it.
Can you imagine what it’s going to be like for her when she’s ripped from the home… again? Can you imagine fighting HOPE for your entire life because it only brings you pain because you don’t believe you’re worth anything…then FINALLY experiencing hope only to have it ripped from you again? Can you imagine how damaging that will be? I can only hurt for her already. But she’s tough, she’ll make it through, no doubt…as she said to me the day her real mother told her she didn’t want her, “One day… one day she’ll remember me… one day.” Tenele hopes for “one day,” and now that it’s here, how can it be taken away?
When we come to Christ, he gives us new life. We are a new creation in is presence; he does not punish us for our past. Why would we punish Tenele for hers? Tenele came into the home just a month ago, she came into the home already pregnant, still trying to survive in Mangwaneni as a man kept trying to come after her and rape her. She now has safety, she now has a home, she now can see a new life! For the first time, Tenele is going to church regularly, receiving counseling, consistent food, sisterly love, and motherly compassion from Christina. I firmly believe that Tenele will run Hope for Life home one day. I see and I can sense it. In a decade Tenele will be the house mother, caring for girls like she once was, sharing her story and changing their lives!
Pray for this to come true! Pray for Tenele. She IS worth fighting for. She needs to stay in the home, no matter who wants her gone. Pray for her protection and for compassion of those around her. Pray for her baby to be put into the hands of a loving mother and father, as Tenele does not want the baby. Pray for the battle and celebrate the victory that is already being won over Tenele’s heart.
I don’t know the future, I don’t know that best option, I don’t know the plan. But I do know this…
She is, was, and always will be WORTH FIGHTING FOR.