“My name is Valary Kapanat. I am a girl. I am sixteen years old. I ran to Cana Girls’ Rescue home because of early forced marriage and attempted FGM [female genital mutilation]. My mother died five years ago and my brother followed later and that was the start of my problems.”
Valary lived with an abusive alcoholic father and was regularly beaten. “I did not have hope in life,” she writes. Then she was told she would be forced into marriage. “My father told me ‘you are going to get married very soon’. I spent all night thinking of a young girl like me being called a wife. I kept praying for the Almighty to help me.”
Rather than be forced into marriage, Valary escaped and ran 74 miles through the bush to the Cana Girls’ Rescue home. “They welcomed me ... and now I have a lot of hope in life.”
With guidance and counselling, Valary is slowly recovering from the trauma she has experienced. Now, she can imagine her own future. “I am talented in football and I thank God for giving me this talent. I will use it properly and serve God. When I finished my education I would like to be a teacher so as to teach my fellow girls on importance of education and campaign against early forced marriage.”
Valary is one of 68 girls in Cana being given hope, prospects and a new life. The funding for the home comes from Barnabas Fund supporters, including the Revd. Canon John Bowers (pictured below) whose sponsored cycle rides across Europe have provided hundreds of thousands of pounds to transform the lives of girls like Valary.
The home is a refuge for Christian girls at risk in the context of traditional African religions.
The girls, aged between nine and 20, seek help to escape situations such as being forced into a polygamous marriage or FGM. Some are brought to the home by mothers who have become Christians and want to protect their daughters, sometimes the girls themselves are converts to Christianity. For all the girls, the home provides a loving and secure Christian environment.