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“I hope you can help more children in need"

November 10th, 2020

Yasmin lives with her parents and two little brothers in a very simple home. The place is located in a slum area with the majority of residents being factory workers in the East part of Surabaya, Indonesia. For washing and taking baths, they use the public washrooms.

Yasmin’s mother is the breadwinner of the family because her father is very sick and cannot work anymore. The father helps his wife sell fried snacks and sometimes, Yasmin provides her mother with help. There is no playground in the area, so Yasmin played with her friends at a nearby school. 

The income of Yasmin's mother is only enough for basic food and rent. This led her to drop out from school for two years. Fortunately, there is a foundation who helps her continue her studies. Yasmin is a happy little and clever girl. She always got the 1st honours in her class.

Her life was turned upside down when one day in December 2019. Yasmin was helping her mother sell snacks in a place not too far from their house. A 40-year old ice cream seller who is a friend of Yasmin’s mother asked her whether he can borrow a pan. Without thinking, Yasmin’s mother told him to get the pan in her house and asked Yasmin to show him where the pan was. She did not know why the man needed a pan, but she was too busy. 

The 11-year old Yasmin just obeyed her mother, and went with the ice cream seller with his motorcycle to her house. The house was empty and the man made use of the opportunity to molest Yasmin. He lured and promised her that he would buy her a cellphone. The little girl tried to fight but he was much stronger than her.  After he was done, he threatened Yasmin not to tell anyone about it. He grabbed the pan, and they came back to the place where her mother was selling snacks. Yasmin’s mother was not suspicious and had only asked her daughter what took so long. 

Poverty is a main factor that this sexual violence case happened. Yasmin’s mother had to work to feed her family, and did not have time to always pay attention to Yasmin. This made her daughter vulnerable to perpetrators. She could not also rely on her father to guard her because of his sickness. 

After what happened, Yasmin was totally changed.

The girl who was happy and smiling a lot, became moody and quiet. She jumped every time she heard ice cream seller bells. The sound reminded her of what the perpetrator did to her. For two weeks. she did not want to go to school by herself, and always asked her mother to accompany her.  

The changes got the attention of Yasmin’s mother. She approached her carefully and asked what happened. Yasmin then told her about the horrible incident. Yasmin’s mother was very shocked. Her blood boiled at what she heard. Angry, fed up, hateful, all mixed into one. 

The family already lives with a heavy burden in their daily lives, and with this incident - their suffering worsens. This took a toll on Yasmin’s mother. Her sick husband and uncertain income became a burden for her. Now the burden is added when her little girl told her that she was molested by an ice cream seller by her own friend. 

A few months after that incident, the government declared the State in a COVID-19 emergency status. Yasmin’s mother could no longer work and the family immediately did not have a source of income. 

The life's ordeal made Yasmin's mother unable to live her life. She wanted to avoid all the misery by leaving this world. She stabbed herself with a sharp knife but fortunately the attempt failed.

“I could not think of anything and I felt there was no longer any point in living”, she said.

After the failed suicide attempt and with the support from her husband and their neighbour, Yasmin’s mother decided to bring the case to the police who then shared it with Surabaya Children Crisis Center (SCCC), a Terre des Hommes partner organization. The SCCC team quickly responded and looked for Yasmin and her family.

The SCCC team met Yasmin and her family several times to support them with counselling, along with school supplies and groceries (including masks and soap) for the family as they were only able to survive from food provided by the neighbors. SCCC also provided Sumiati with a startup fund (approximately 40 Euros) so she can start making snacks again and restart her small business.

Over time, Yasmin and her mother continued to feel better and stronger since SCCC first provided them with support. Yasmin’s smile was present when she was accompanied to her trial. Her mother bravely gave testimony before the judges.  In the trial, Yasmin’s mother expressed her wishes to change her life and start a new chapter.

The SCCC team accompanied them through the process until the perpetrator was given a sentence of 7 years in prison. They also continued to provide Yasmin counseling and referred her to a psychologist for further treatment. They make sure the family has capacities to restart their life and rise from adversity.

Yasmin is now back to school

Due to COVID-19, this remained online. When the SCCC team visited her, she was doing an exam online with the assistance of one of the SCCC paralegal members. She also helps her mother with house chores as she has not yet fully recovered. Yasmin also likes drawing in her spare time.

Yasmin is not afraid anymore when she hears the sound of ice cream bells. Her mother is getting stronger physically after recovering from the suicide attempt. Yet they still have to receive treatment to recover from the trauma, and rebuild their family livelihood. SCCC assistance is important to them, not only in giving them confidence and security during the trial, but also psychological recovery.

"I wish all SCCC staff are granted good health, and I hope you can help more children in need" Yasmin’s mother said.

Being able to continue her study now, Yasmin told SCCC that ¨I want to be a teacher one day¨.

Through partnerships with local organizations such as SCCC, Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ Down to Zero project aims to give children of abuse an opportunity to live a life free of pain through counselling and legal aid in various countries. Yasmin is one of many child victims who have been recovering and receiving support from this project. 

Read more about Down to Zero
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