Zonta Club of Cebu I: "We hear your cries"
My Bonita Home for Girls is a residential care center for underaged rape survivors rescued by the Department of Social Welfare in Cebu, Philippines. While various civic and religious groups visit the care center during the holidays or religious holidays, the Zonta Club of Cebu I learned from the prioress that no group has been providing regular and sustainable services to the survivors' needs.
The prioress introduced the club to "Juana," a 13-years-old girl. At three years old, Juana was regularly sexually assaulted by her uncles and cousins until she was rescued by the Department of Social Welfare and brought to the My Bonita Home. The club members found her story heart-wrenching and felt there must be more they could do for them, such as services that bring the survivors inner and psychological healing. Therefore, the club is partnering with a religious group to work on the healing journey and asking for psychiatrists and others to volunteer.
Although the healing process is complex, and not everyone would be able to commit their time and energy regularly, the club is determined to reach out to every survivor and show their love and care for them. By being present and listening to their stories, the survivors have started treating the club members as parental figures because many of their families have rejected them.
The club strongly advocates for ending violence against women and children and consistently holds seminars, awareness programs and services on the topic. Touched by the stories and experiences of the survivors, the club is inspired to do more. They plan to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the care center in July. The agreement states the services the club can provide that are sustainable because they want to free the survivors from their pain and past.