Oasis runs a youth centre for young people who have left orphanages (leavers). We provide them with food parcels, access to computers, cooking classes, and support and counselling.
When it opened, the Youth Center staff had difficulty making contact with leavers and earning their trust. Oksana, one of the staff working at the Youth Center, recently explained, “when I began working, my first order of business was to call all of the young people. It was actually very difficult to make contact with them. They didn’t trust us and didn’t come to us at first.” However, over time, as Oksana and our other staff members continued reaching out to the leavers, the trust grew, and stories began to change.
One example of this is the story of Salima. She came to a ‘watermelon party’ when Oasis first began working with leavers from her orphanage but for a long time the staff didn’t see her because she was studying at a technical school to become a cook. Some time later she began to have problems at school and started coming to the Youth Centre regularly every week and we started to hear from other leavers that something bad had happened to her. After a while she told us that her brother had raped her. Gossip about what happened spread around the technical school and the school administration expelled Salima for “doing indecent things”. She is now staying on the floor of a friend’s apartment of one of her friends, who is letting her stay for free. She hasn’t turned 18 yet and is having difficulty finding a job.
Recently, Salima came to the Youth Centre to pick up a food parcel. Oksana asked how she was doing and she very sincerely thanked Oksana and Gulnara (the staff members working at the youth centre for how much they have helped her through this time because after she was expelled she had absolutely nothing to eat and was dying from hunger. Salima then openly shared everything that happened during the past year, concluding with “I hate my brother”. Oksana then asked if the center has been helpful. Salima responded, “of course. I can come here, drink tea, and hang out with you. I can share my pains and trust you, and because of this my burdens are lighter and my life easier.”