By: Shelby Chism
I met Nadege in 2012. We approached her home to ask a few questions about her lifestyle in Haiti and her family in order to get a sense of the area around us. She was very welcoming. Her family found chairs for us to sit in and gave up their seats for us. She was funny. We knew that even in spite of the language barrier. She was beautiful. Her family loved her and looked to her while she spoke. She was an encourager. One of the girls mentioned she wanted to be a model and Nadege giggled and told her she could be. Nadege was strong. She was lovely.
During our chat with Nadege, we found out that she had three children, all of them present during our conversation. While Emily and I began asking about the father of her children, the mood shifted. What was a playful, fun conversation was now tense and uncomfortable. Emily asked Nadege if she was going to marry the father of her children... We thought we were dreaming with her. Nadege quickly said "no" several times and shook her head over and over. Emily didn't want to pry but we both felt the tension rise. We left shortly after, but the feeling of those moments didn't pass. Later that day, we were told that the reason Nadege most likely acted that way when asked about her boyfriend was because he may have raped her. That was not the answer we expected to hear. A fight, maybe. But sexual violence? Something resonated in our hearts.
It's three and a half years later and I now have a daughter of my own. It causes you to see the world differently. I would do anything to keep her safe, to make sure she never had to experience something that could break her spirit. The reality is, I can't. I can't keep all of the bad out. I can't follow her around her whole life and make sure everyone is kind to her. However, I can trust in a God that does and will follow my daughter around every corner and milestone in her life. A God that can make sure my daughter grows to know that she is strong; she is courageous; she is loved; she is worthy.
I can also support a cause that tries to bring some good to the world. Then, when bad things do happen - whether in my daughter's life or the lives of women in Haiti, I can have HOPE. I will choose to be hopeful because I know that each person has a story, and that God is sovereign over all of our stories. My hope has been restored and meeting Nadege and hearing her story was the first step.