*Madeline was a happy child, until the age of 12, when her Dad died and her whole world crashed down around her.
Her mother had no money to look after the family, so she found work as a live-in maid and sent Madeline to live with her uncle. Her schooling stopped and she was kept at home.
Her uncle had a friend who visited often. He was a brick maker. He and Madeline first became friends, and then lovers. Soon she was pregnant. She was 16 years old.
They got married, she moved to his place and their son was born soon after.
Her husband started drinking and was not good to her. Madeline was deeply unhappy. Two years later she had a second child – a daughter. After the birth of their daughter, he became violent. He used to break things in the house and encouraged their son to break things as well.
Madeline’s mum lived close by and witnessed what was going on in the home. But instead of asking for help, Madeline felt ashamed. This marriage had been her choice.
She persuaded her husband to move away from her family, and for a short time, things improved. But it didn’t last. Soon he became very violent and Madeline lived in fear.
One day he told her he was taking their son to buy provisions. After a long wait for their return she went looking for them, and near her husband’s workplace, she found her young son sitting by himself. There were strange men working nearby, and her husband was nowhere to be seen. She was told he had gone to the local tavern for a drink. She took her son home.
When her husband came home, he thrashed her for bringing the boy back. They had a huge fight and he threatened to kill her. He was drunk, and took a brick to hit her. She grabbed the children and ran to hide, and her drunken husband set fire to the house. Madeline rang the landlord, but by the time they arrived the house was in flames. All their possessions were burnt to cinders.
The police arrested Madeline’s husband and Madeline made an official complaint about his violence, refusing to go back to him. She says that if the children and she had not escaped that night he would have burnt them all alive.
It was at this point that Global Care’s partners, Community Concern, stepped in. The police referred Madeline and the children to Heavena.
Heavena is one of only three refuges for victims of domestic violence in the whole of Sri Lanka and the only one which allows women to keep their children for more than a two week emergency stay. It has been supported by Global Care since its inception 14 years ago. Families are allowed to stay up to nine months, and receive counselling, welfare care and practical support, so they leave in much better shape than when they arrived.
When Madeline first came to Heavena her son’s behaviour was very challenging. He used to hit other children, and had always been poorly behaved at school. Madeline’s daughter was very timid and did not like to speak to anyone. However, Madeline was committed to a better future and she spent a lot of time with her children, encouraging them and reassuring them their trauma was over.
They went to school while they stayed at Heavena and their attitude and attainment improved. They found friends and were happy. Madeline was very willing and helped a lot around the home, and the whole family enjoyed participating in the Christmas programmes, their first Christmas together.
But what next? Heavena’s social worker contacted Madeline’s family, liaising with probation services and her family. Her brother agreed to build a separate little house in his compound for her and the children. Once it was built the probation officer inspected it and confirmed it was a safe place for her to go.
Our partners report: “Madeline left Heavena in early 2018 and went to live in the house that her brother built. She has found a job now and is supporting her children. The children are back at school and they are all living happily.”
Our 2018 Harvest Appeal aims to raise £8000 – enough funds for one year’s welfare support for the families at Heavena. Help us sow seeds of hope into broken lives by donating below