RESTORING GIRLS AT THE OASIS: A REAL LIFE STORY!

Corbey Dukes, Kids Alive Guatemala Field Director
Corbey Dukes, Kids Alive Guatemala Field Director

Corbey Dukes, Kids Alive Guatemala Field Director, tells us all about the recent events happening at the Oasis Girls Home...

During January we had a gruelling trial in court. One of our girls Anna*, from the Oasis Home had to testify in her criminal hearing and, as her legal representative, I have to go and sign her statement.  Luckily it was the "Cámara Gesell" system - where she is in a room with a court-appointed psychologist while the judge, prosecutor, attorneys, the accused and I are on the other side of a one-way window.   Questions are given through a microphone to the psychologist who hears them in an ear-piece and she then asks the question to our girl.  We can watch and hear her responses on our side of the glass.  This is a reform that International Justice Mission helped create in Guatemala's system.  Before entering the room, I asked our girl who she was and she replied "I am a daughter of God".  I then asked her what kind of God and she said "A God of justice."  I asked her again as I left to go into my side of the court who she was, and this time she smiled and said "I am David" - the week before in our devotional we had talked about how they are Davids when they stand up with truth as their weapon in court.

Two of our girls at the Oasis
Two of our girls at the Oasis

I was sitting on our side of the Cámara Gesel when they brought in the accused.  He looked tired and sad.  However, when Anna entered on the other side of the one-way window, he visibly changed.  His body tensed, his face hardened, his eyes narrowed and he looked like a predator ready to pounce.  You could sense Evil.

Our case was only the second time Cámara Gesell had been used in this jurisdiction.  The abuser was someone of means and had hired a very aggressive defence attorney.  His attorney at first strenuously objected to the separation.  Although the system is designed to protect the victim, he demanded that he and his client, 48 years old, had the right to face his "accuser", now 14 years old.  He was quite dramatic, stabbing his finger in the air and waving his papers about.  Our IJM attorneys and the prosecutors successfully argued against a change in format.  After this, I knew our girl would have a hard time.  The defence kept trying to wear her down and trick her.  Anna endured over an hour of questions, having to give explicit details of three years of child prostitution that started when she was 8.  However, after standing her ground against intense cross-examination, the defence attorney was the one worn down.  Shoulders now slumped, he sat back into his chair and said "No more questions."  He had come up against a David intent on slaying giants.  

At one point the judge granted our girl 5 minutes to rest.  The mic in her room was left on and I could hear her talking to the psychologist.  The psychologist asked her how she was doing and if she liked the "home".  Our girl said, "Yes very much."  When asked why she said, "The house parents are nice, I am healing and they teach me about God.  I am very happy there."  We can call that a win.

Thanks for supporting an environment where girls heal and learn about God.  I wish I could share with each of you the hug I got later in the day from this girl.

* Name changed to protect privacy

Posted on February 25th 2014

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